Sri Lanka

Dengue cases soar, officials warn of new strain

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Suspected dengue patients have been advised to seek treatment even after a day of fever, in view of the identification of a new strain of dengue, a senior health official said.National Dengue Control Unit’s Director, Dr Anura Jayasekara said that the strain which was spreading this year was different from the strain which affected Sri Lanka two years ago and therefore there were only mild differences in symptoms.

The director said suspected patients could get into a serious condition at a faster rate as those affected would not have build up immunity for the new strain.“There are cases where patients get into serious condition even after only having the illness for two days,” he said.Dr Jayasekara said that getting early diagnosis was better as there were also other illnesses such as influenza and fever caused by the virus.The warning was made as the number of Dengue cases was on the rise with at least 90 deaths and more than 88,000 cases reported so far this year.

Districts which reported high number of cases include Colombo, Gampaha, Kalutara, Kandy, Matale, Jaffna and Badulla.According to the epidemiology unit’s statistics, the cases of dengue in Colombo this year rose to as many as 18,237 compared to 10,258 reported last year.In the Gampaha district this year 13,758 cases were reported compared to 5,857 cases last year.Dr Jayasekara said dengue epidemic had increased after the rains in recent weeks.

He said they would deploy 1,500 public health officers to carry out inspections in areas where most cases were reported. He said that cleaning and education programmes were also taking place in these areas. Legal action would also be taken against those who had neglected to clear mosquito breeding places.Special attention would be given to inspect construction sites, government institutes and private company premises. Legal action would be taken against company owners and construction companies if mosquito breeding places were found in their premises.

Dr Jayasekara said the unit was also drafting a new law to increase fines on those who neglected to clear mosquito breeding places.Meanwhile, the Infectious Diseases Hospital (IDH) which mainly treats patients with fever is admitting more than than 100 patients per day and discharging about 40 dengue patients after treatment.The IDH Director, Hasitha Attanayake said that they have currently admitted around 130 dengue patients.He said among the patients were about 20 students who were supposed to sit for the Ordinary Level (O/L)examination. They had to sit for the examination in hospital.Dr Attanayake said that at the beginning of the month the numbers of dengue patients were around 193.

“During the time we even had to open a high dependency unit with the help of the army and increased the bed capacity by 45 beds on the ground floor. We requested and got 10 more medical officers and five nursing officers to tend to the patients,” he said..