Dengue outbreak in Sri Lanka kills 225
Since 1965, Sri Lanka has had several Dengue Fever outbreaks in the past. Though the current crisis is not unique, it is the worst that has ever hit the country. This year, more than 76,000 have been infected by the virus and 225 have succumbed to death.
Dengue fever is caused by a virus that is transmitted by mosquitoes. It is characterized by a sudden onset of fever with muscle and joint pain, tiredness and severe headache. Bleeding from various parts of the body and rash can occur. Like many viral infections, there is no cure but the symptoms can be managed and victims can be healed. It however has very high fatality especially among certain groups of people. The high risk groups include children, pregnant women and the elderly. This year's strain is particularly very dangerous according to the National Dengue Eradication Unit's Dr. Priscilla Samaraweera. She acclaims that there is no cure for all four strains but the current one is the deadliest.
The Sri Lankan government has been trying to handle the situation in the best way possible. It has deployed 400 soldiers and police officers all over the country to clear all the possible mosquito breeding areas. These include rotting garbage and stagnant water pools which are what mosquitoes love. There are many such areas in Sri Lanka right now since it is just after the heavy monsoon rains the Chief Medical Officer of Colombo, Dr. Ruwan Wijayamuni, says that these rains compounded the problem. The breeding sites are the best place to start in controlling the disease because the adults will soon die and with no growing eggs and larvae to replace them, dengue spreading will be a thing of the past. There are other methods of control but this is the most effective.
There are Dengue cases all over the country but the most affected parts are urban especially the city of Colombo. This is according to the National Dengue Eradication Unit's Dr. Priscilla Samaraweera. She said that the monsoon rains had left the city water logged with many puddles and the garbage is rain-soaked. These sites provide mosquito breeding sites. In Colombo, 25 teams of soldiers, health inspectors and police officers have been deployed. The hospitals are crowded with Dengue patients. Actually, the army has had to build temporary wards in Negombo Base Hospital.
The teams that have been deployed to the ground are advising people on clearing clogged drains and emptying outdoor pots of any rain water that may have collected in them. These efforts have been faced with some level of resistance. Dr. Wijayamuni says that some residents do not clean their environment and they refuse to allow the inspectors come into the houses. He termed this as unacceptable behaviour. The inspectors are also fumigating public places.
The army, health inspectors and the police are not the only people involved in controlling this crisis. The government is too. The president, Maithripala Sirisena has urged all Sri Lankans to cooperate with the officials in fighting Dengue.
Last year, there were 55,150 people diagnosed with Dengue out of which 97 died. This year the number of infections has already reached 38 percent above last year's number and the number continues to grow. This is one of the worst dengue epidemics to ever occur in this tropical island nation. The highest number of infections has been recorded as well as the highest number of dengue related deaths.
The population is advised to follow the instructions given to them by the health officials in order to prevent more cases. Anyone who experiences the signs and symptoms of the disease is also advised to seek medical attention as soon as possible.