Chikungunya spread by
travellers, say health officials
Bambalapitiya, Wellawatte, Cinnamon Gardens
and Narahenpita the most affected areas in the city
Health Ministry Epidemiology Unit head Dr. Nihal Abeysinghe is of
the opinion that Chikungunya has been spread here by travellers
from neighbouring countries which had this particular viral disease.
“The most number of suspected patients was from the north
and east of the country. India too had a severe spread of this disease
this year after 30 years, so it is possible that some infected travellers
came to Sri Lanka,” he said.
A medical officer at the Kalmunai Base Hospital
said the number of patients with the viral fever was on the rise
with around 30-40 admissions taking place daily. The blood samples
sent to Thailand tested positive for Chikungunya viral fever, the
Health Ministry said on Friday.
“The samples were sent to AFRIM Bangkok,
the Hong Kong University and the National Institute for Virology
in Pune, India. 60% of the blood samples we sent abroad tested positive
for Chikungunya,” he said. The molecular medicine unit of
Ragama Medical Faculty in Colombo North was the first to confirm
the disease on November 17 through laboratory tests done by the
Unit head Dr. Wimaladharma Abeywickrema said that
even though the unit was under the Education Ministry it had close
connections with the Health Ministry Epidemiology Unit. “We
had laboratory tests done on a DNA based method from blood samples
taken from suspected patients in Hambantota, Colombo, Kalmunai,
Ampara and also from some private hospitals. We were able to confirm
that it was Chikungunya viral infection after the first four days
of fever,” he said.
Meanwhile Colombo Municipal Council Chief Medical
Officer Dr. Pradeep Kariyawasam said Chikungunya was spreading like
wildfire in Colombo adding that people in Colombo do not have any
immunity from Chikungunya. “Even it is not a dangerous viral
fever like dengue, the joint pains may continue for weeks and it
almost cripples a person for a few days.” he said. He said
Bambalapitiya, Wellawatte, Cinnamon Gardens and Narahenpita were
the most affected areas in the city.