Rains begin bringing deadly disease in its wake

Dengue Control Unit warns of an impending outbreak
By Mirudhula Thambiah

With the onset of the second inter-monsoonal rain and the North-East (NE) monsoon, the dengue Control Unit (DCU) has warned of an outbreak of dengue fever in the next two months. For this year 20,881 total numbers of cases have been reported to date, out of which 1,306 were reported in October. The vulnerable areas are Colombo, Gampaha, Kalutara and Kandy.

According to the DCU, MOH areas such as, Dehiwala, Kolonnawa, Colombo city and Wattala, Dompe, Ja-Ela and Negombo in the Gampaha district, Beruwala and Panadura in the Kalutara district, Gampola and Kurunduwatte in the Kandy district, Matara, Jaffna, Karaveddy, Vavuniya, Eravur, Kuliyapitiya, Pannala, Polgahawela, Wennappuwa, Badulla, Badalkumbura, Medagama, Kegalle, Mawanella, Rambukkana and Galigamuwa are at a higher risk of dengue transmission with the potential for an outbreak, based on disease surveillance.

Presently, the number of dengue cases is increasing in some of the areas which have experienced rains. National DCU Director Dr R. Batuwanthudawe said that, although the number of reported cases differ on a daily basis, Colombo Municipality, Dehiwala and Kolonnawa are the most affected areas in the last few weeks. Negombo, Jaffna and Matara Municipality areas are the other high-risk areas.

“In addition, we are monitoring the mosquito density as well. According to density reports received from Badalkumbura in Moneragala and some areas in Ratnapura, the density is rising,” he added.
“There is a Dengue outbreak in Gampola. One of the reasons is that people do not clean their roof’s gutters, where rain water stagnates, because the outlet is clogged with dirt and leaves, making it an ideal location for dengue mosquitoes to breed. The same issue prevails in Mawanella, Kegalle and in Colombo. Therefore, we kindly request householders to keep their gutters clean to prevent dengue mosquitoes from breeding.

“People tend to collect water in large tubs, buckets and cement tanks, due to water scarcity in areas such as Gampola, Kundasale and Kegalle, which creates an environment for dengue mosquitoes to breed. The DCU recommends the use of plastic water tanks with lids, instead of cement tanks. The idea being to prevent access to the water,” he said.

Meanwhile, CMC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pradeep Kariyawasam said, some 123 cases have been reported in October, and it is expected to rise in November and December, like in the last year. According to statistics for 2010, dengue cases within the CMC were higher in November and December than in May and June.

“We have been carrying out a large number of inspections to avoid the upcoming situation. Comparatively, the dengue fever cases has reduced within Colombo city. Every year, the number of dengue cases rises between November and January. The most we can do is to keep the numbers down,” he added.

Government has introduced measures under the Prevention of Mosquito Breeding Act, to shift the burden of responsibility on the general public, to compel their participation in the prevention of mosquito breeding, to enable legal actions against the residents negligent in their efforts to prevent breeding mosquitoes.

Commenting on the legal action taken against households where dengue breeding places exist, he said that nearly 200 cases had been filed under the mosquito borne diseases regulation. Many people found guilty have been fined from Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,500, depending on the seriousness of the offence.

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