Dengue outbreak threatens Sri Lanka, officials warn of new strain


Sri Lanka's health officials have warned of a dengue outbreak on Monday, December 16, 2019, as at least 120 people have died so far and 87 000 have been affected. Incessant rain in many parts of the island was said to be one of the leading causes of the outbreak. For the first time, dengue cases were also reported from the Jaffna District and the number of affected people there has reached 7 000 this year.

According to Haritha Aluthge, Secretary of the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA), they had informed new Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi and the Secretary to the Ministry of Health of the gravity of the issue as 11 districts are now suffering from the rapid spread of the virus.

The worst affected districts were Colombo, Gampaha, in the outskirts of the capital and Kandy, in the central hills.

Medical experts said the figures of fatalities so far this year are alarming.

People were urged to seek immediate medical assistance once they experience high fever, uncontrolled vomiting, abdominal pain, dizziness, and reduced urinary.

"All fever patients need rest and should refrain from attending work or school," said epidemiologists.

Pregnant women were told to seek hospital admission quickly on the first day of fever.

National Dengue Control Unit’s Director, Dr. Anura Jayasekara said the new strain spreading this year was different from the strain which affected Sri Lanka in 2017, and there were only mild differences in symptoms.

"There are cases where patients get into serious condition even after only having the illness for two days," said Jayasekara.

The unit will deploy 1 500 public health officers to conduct inspections in areas where most cases were reported. Moreover, special attention will be given to inspect construction sites, government offices, and private companies.

Jayasekara added that the unit was also drafting a new law to increase fines for those who neglected to eradicate mosquito breeding places.

In 2018, more than 48 000 people were affected by the mosquito-borne virus in Sri Lanka.

The National Dengue Control Unit has launched programs to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds in several districts of the country.

Featured image credit: 41330/Pixabay


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