Sri Lanka’s dengue out­break kills 225

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

Sri Lanka is suf­fer­ing its worst-ever dengue out­break, with the mosquito-borne virus killing 225 peo­ple and in­fect­ing more than 76,000 this year. Alarmed by the mag­ni­tude of the cri­sis, the gov­ern­ment de­ployed 400 sol­diers and po­lice of­fi­cers yes­ter­day to clear away rot­ting garbage, stag­nant wa­ter pools and other po­ten­tial mosquito breed­ing grounds. Dr. Ruwan Wi­jaya­muni, Colombo’s chief med­i­cal of­fi­cer, said peo­ple’s fail­ure to clear pud­dles and piles of trash af­ter last month’s heavy mon­soon rains had com­pounded the prob­lem.

“It’s pa­thetic that they don’t keep clean their en­vi­ron­ment,” Wi­jaya­muni said. “Some res­i­dents do not al­low of­fi­cials to in­spect the houses and clean them. This is re­ally un­ac­cept­able.” The num­ber of in­fec­tions na­tion­wide is al­ready 38 per­cent higher than last year, when 55,150 peo­ple were di­ag­nosed with dengue and 97 died, ac­cord­ing to the Health Min­istry. The high­est num­ber of cases is in the re­gion around the main city of Colombo, though cases were be­ing re­ported across the trop­i­cal is­land na­tion.

“This is mostly an ur­ban dis­ease” said Dr. Priscilla Sa­ma­raweera of the Na­tional Dengue Erad­i­ca­tion Unit. Last month’s heavy rains left the cities wa­ter­logged, with pud­dles and rain-soaked garbage pro­vid­ing ideal spots for mos­qui­toes to breed and mul­ti­ply. In Colombo alone, 25 teams of sol­diers, po­lice of­fi­cers and pub­lic health in­spec­tors were knock­ing on doors at peo­ple’s homes, ad­vis­ing them to clear clogged drains and empty out­door pots that might have filled with rain­wa­ter. Health of­fi­cials were also fu­mi­gat­ing pub­lic spa­ces. This year’s strain is par­tic­u­larly dan­ger­ous, Sa­ma­raweera said. There is no cure for any of the four strains of the virus, which causes a high fever, weeks of ex­haus­tion and in some cases a vi­cious skin rash. Pa­tients most at risk of dy­ing are the el­derly, chil­dren or those with other med­i­cal com­pli­ca­tions. Hos­pi­tals were so crowded with dengue pa­tients, the army was build­ing two tem­po­rary wards at Ne­gombo Base Hos­pi­tal, about 38 kilo­me­ters north of Colombo, mil­i­tary spokesman Brig. —AP

COLOMBO: A Sri Lankan pub­lic health of­fi­cial stands with po­lice of­fi­cers be­fore leav­ing for Dengue fever ir­ra­di­a­tion work in Colombo, Sri Lanka yes­ter­day.—AP

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