By Shezna Shums
This year the dreaded dengue virus has claimed the lives of 66 persons around the island and the number of suspected dengue cases is 7732.
The Ministry of Health Epidemiology Unit officials stated that during the monsoon period it is common to see the number of dengue cases drastically increase.
During the months of May, June and July Sri Lanka experiences monsoon rains which in turn results in more dengue breeding sites and thus more dengue infections. During April, Sri Lanka recorded 1761 suspected dengue cases; in May the number of suspected dengue cases was 1955; and in June to date the figure of suspected dengue cases reported stand at 938. “So we expect this figure to increase during this monsoon period,” stated an official.
He further noted that it is important that people and communities keep their premises clean and free from dengue breeding sites to help curb this problem.
The highest number of dengue cases was reported from the Western Province, Colombo Gampaha and Kalutara whilst other areas also had high numbers of suspected cases.
The Ministry of Health has also declared the week from 20-26 June as the National Mosquito Control Week and informed that houses, schools, and offices in the government & private sector will be under intense inspections for dengue breeding sites.
It was reported that steps would be taken to amend the Mosquito Breeding Control Act to vest powers with health officers to impose spot fines on violators. The acting IGP was also instructed to arrest anyone who obstructs health officials from inspecting mosquito breeding places.
The Ministry of Health has made arrangements to implement several programmes during the National Mosquito Control Week. These include:
- Enlightening the public about the National Mosquito Control Week
- Implementation of daily programmes for the control of mosquitoes
- Enlightening the mass on the progress of mosquito control work and
- Exhibition of banners and showing video clips relating to mosquito control.
The programme will be implemented island wide and the Presidential Secretariat has advised all Ministries and Divisional Secretariat Divisions to extend their fullest cooperation to this programme. One of the problems encouraging more mosquito breeding sites is the illegal constructions that block the proper drainage system in houses and other buildings
Although the BTI bacteria is used to eradicate mosquito breeding sites there are instances when this bacteria cannot reach certain places and it is up to the public to keep their premises clean and free of any mosquito breeding sites.
With the current rains the possibility of the spread of Leptospirosis or rat fever was also highlighted by the Epidemiological Unit.