Dengue cases over four times previous average: WHO

The World Health Organization says the current dengue epidemic is likely to have repercussions on public health in Sri Lanka, with a 4.3 times increase in the average number of cases reported.

Releasing a statement, the WHO says from 1st January to 7th July in 2017, the Epidemiology Unit of the Health Ministry has reported 80,732 dengue fever cases, including 215 deaths.

“This is 4.3 fold higher than the average number of cases for the same period between 2010 and 2016,” the WHO said.

“Monthly number of cases exceeds the mean plus three standard deviations for each of the past six months.”

WHO, however, does not recommend that any general travel or trade restrictions be applied on Sri Lanka based on the information available for this event.

Approximately 43 percent of the dengue fever cases were reported from the Western Province. The most affected areas with the highest number of reported cases are Colombo District (18,186), followed by Gampaha (12,121) and Kurunegala (4,889).

Preliminary laboratory results have identified Dengue virus serotype 2 (DENV-2) as the circulating strain in this outbreak.

“Dengue fever is endemic in Sri Lanka, and occurs every year, usually soon after rainfall is optimal for mosquito breeding,” the WHO said.

“However DENV-2 has been identified only in low numbers since 2009 and is reportedly over 50% of current specimens which have been serotyped.”

The current dengue fever outbreak occurs in a context of massive heavy rains and flooding and is currently affecting 15 out of 25 districts in Sri Lanka where almost 600,000 people have been affected.

Cabinet on Tuesday decided to take several immediate steps to prevent irregular waste disposal in Colombo and suburbs and Dengue prevention.

Accordingly, the authorities are to file private cases against persons responsible in maintaining dengue breeding sites in schools, public institutions and other institutions.

It will also be made compulsory, the installation of name boards with details of the owners or constructor in all construction sites in Colombo and Suburbs.

The government is to impose regulations to check houses and properties which are locked & to take legal action against them under public security Act.

Installation of CCTV cameras will also be carried out soon on public places where waste is disposed irregularly

WHO promotes the strategic approach known as Integrated Vector Management (IVM) to control mosquito vectors, including those of dengue.

Prevention and control relies on reducing the breeding of mosquitoes through source reduction (removal and modification of breeding sites) and reducing human–vector contact through adult control measures.

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