By Shezna Shums
The dreaded dengue virus has claimed the lives of over 66 persons around the Island and the number of suspected dengue cases is 7949 to date.
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 stands 1154 “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 including Colombo, Gampaha and Kalutara whilst other areas also had high numbers of suspected cases. Some of the other areas are Batticaloa, Kurunegala and Puttlam, Galle, Hambantota and Matara, the Epidemiology Unit also has statistics of suspected dengue cases from others areas around the island.
The Ministry of Health has also declared from 20 - 26 June the National Mosquito Control Week and informs all houses, schools, offices in the government and 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 Mosquitoes Control Week. These include:
nEnlightening the public about the National Mosquito Control Week
nImplementation of daily programmes for the control of mosquitoes
nEnlightening the mass on the progress of mosquito control work and
nExhibition 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 increased rains the problem of Leptospirosis or rat fever was also highlighted by the Epidemiological Unit. Leptospirosis is most prevalent after rains and for the people involved in outdoor activities where they come into contact with contaminated water. The Epidemiological Unit advises all Regional Directors of Health to consider control and prevention of Leptospirosis following floods as a priority health issue