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
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
Or Tel. 25033550.