Sri Lanka seeks to ward off dengue crisis

Sri Lanka seeks to ward off dengue crisis

Colombo, July 3 (IANS) Authorities in Sri Lanka this week launched a campaign to stamp out dengue from the country, amid reports of more than 20,000 suspected cases in the first six months of this year.

According to official data from the Epidemiological Unit of Sri Lanka’s Department of Health, 20,954 suspected dengue cases have been reported across the country so far this year, with 31 deaths, Efe news reported.

More than 46 per cent of these were reported in the Western province which includes the districts of Colombo, Gampaha and Kalutara.

With recent rains creating ideal breeding conditions for the dengue-carrying Aedes mosquito, experts fear the situation will only worsen.

In response to the issue, a campaign was launched this week by police, army and health authorities, who aim to destroy breeding areas, educate people about the disease and take legal action against anyone maintaining environments suitable for the breeding of dengue mosquitoes.

In the capital city Colombo, which is reportedly the hardest hit area, officials were seen fumigating streets, buses and dumpsites in recent days.

Inspections of houses, government buildings and vacant lands were also carried out by health officials and police.

Since Thursday, steps have been taken to pursue legal action against 139 people found in the inspections to be maintaining mosquito breeding grounds.

The Ministry of Health said notices were also issued to other 853 people.

Dengue, which carries symptoms including fever, headache, muscle pain and rashes, is a recurring problem in Sri Lanka with an average of 15,000 cases reported in the first six months of the year between 2010 and 2015.

The World Health Organisation estimates that globally there are 50 to 100 million dengue infections annually, while research from the University of Oxford and the Wellcome Trust puts the number of infections at 390 million.

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