Sri Lanka

Dengue fever on rise in Sri Lanka

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COLOMBO, Dec 23, 2009 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Sri Lankan health authorities warned Wednesday that the dengue fever is on a rise in three areas -- Colombo, Matale and Vavuniya.

Public Health Director of the Sri Lankan Health Ministry Dr. Palitha Maheepala told reporters that 31,749 dengue cases have been reported so far this year, 290 of which are death cases.

Dr. Maheepala said the Ministry had observed a slight increase in the number of dengue cases reported in Colombo, Matale and Vavuniya, whereas in the other parts of the country there has been a decline.

He said the highest number of deaths are reported from Colombo, Gampaha, Kandy, Kurunegala, Ratnapura, and Kegalle Districts.

He said the number of dengue cases reported from the Vavuniya District was 750 since Jan this year while the number of dengue deaths reached 13.

The Public Health Department of the Colombo Municipal Council said two dengue deaths were reported in the city within the last week.

One of them was a child and the other was a nurse serving at country's leading maternity hospital De Soyza Hospital in Colombo.

Dr. Pradeep Kariyawasam with the hospital said the number of suspected dengue cases from the beginning of December to date was 160."However, some of the cases that were referred to us were suffering from viral flu," he said.

The Health Ministry has canceled all foreign tours of ministry officials and government doctors until Jan. 30 as a precautionary measure to prepare the country for a possible epidemic.

This move was taken in the backdrop of A/H1N1 influenza, leptospirosis (commonly known as rat fever) and Dengue fever now spreading in the country.

Last month, schools of the Central Province and the Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka were also closed indefinitely due to the A/H1N1 flu.