By Carol Aloysius
The Dengue epidemic, is speeding to unprecedented levels, and heading towards the 5,000 mark in the number of reported cases in just four months of the year. The cumulative number of cases for this year is 4,225 as of 29/4/11 compared to 4,210 reported by the Government Epidemiology Unit (GEU) on 28/4/11. The cumulative number of deaths in the past four months is 39.
Colombo is the worst affected district, outstripping the rest by a huge margin. It has reported a total of 1,376 cases by Thursday, with the number of cases soaring to 1,389 the following day. The cumulative number of deaths reported in Colombo is 12. Additionally, areas outside the Municipal Council of Colombo reported 761 cases on Friday – up from had 748 cases the previous day and 628 cases in the CMC wards.
Districts that have now exceeded the 200 mark case-wise, are: Gampaha (485), Batticaloa (292), Kalutara (246) Puttlam (200). Others who have passed the 100 mark include: Kurunegala (184), Jaffna ( 128), Matara (102), Kegalle (101) with Hambantota (96) and Galle ( 85) close behind. Districts least affected are Mullaitivu ( 5) and Vavuniya (36).
Speaking frankly to The Nation, Special Commissioner for Colombo Omar Kamil said,
“To be honest, we’re at a loss to explain this sudden surge in the numbers of dengue patients in Colombo. Whereas previously, the main charge against us was environmental pollution due to garbage piling up and providing breeding grounds for the dengue vector, we have worked round the clock to create a green and clean city. Our biggest problem now, it is that we have too many open spaces close to residential areas and schools within the city which I believe, are the biggest breeding sites. Schools and construction sites are the worst culprits as schools have large spaces like playgrounds where small rain water collecting receptacles are found in plenty. We have given strict instructions to all principals to maintain clean premises and our officers also regularly inspect those schools in high risk areas to spray mosquito repellents and ensure the premises are free of mosquito breeding sites. Construction sites, whether small or big, are also suspect areas as most of the labour force don’t clean up when they leave. Open drains and basements collect water and we have asked those living near them to remove the water. Our limited work force and field officers are doing their best. But it has to be a sustained effort on the part of everyone.”
Health sources contacted by The Nation warned that the following the rains there could be a proliferation of mosquito breeding sites. “Minimizing breeding sites is the only way to avoid a worse dengue outbreak in the future”, CMC Medical Officer Dr Pradeep Kariyawasam said.
Epidemiology Unit sources said that all hospitals had been alerted on clinical management and that drugs were available. “However patients with symptoms of dengue and high fever for over three days must be brought to the hospitals in time. Early detection of the disease is the only way to prevent complications arising from Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever ( DHF) which is the cause of the deaths in the country”, a health official said on grounds of anonymity. Meanwhile Leptospirosis ( Rat Fever) too has surged to a new high hitting the 3,200 mark with 31 deaths, despite the figures declining last month (April) compared to March.
The cumulative number of cases reported on April 29 stood at 2969. The worst affected district is Kurunegala which had 1056 cases with four deaths. Gampaha comes 2nd with 251 cases and Hambantota which also had the highest number of deaths (7) comes 3rd with 227 cases.
A surprisingly high number of cases have also been reported from Colombo – 137 with one death. Special Commissioner Kamil said that several householders in Colombo had complained of rats and bandicoots in their gardens. “We have Public Health Departments in five CMC wards which cover the entire Colombo district. If anyone wants our help to get rid of rats or bandicoots we can help them with traps and cages”. he said.
For more information contact
Pest Control Division
155, Torrington Mw
Colombo 7
Or Tel. 25033550.