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Change lukewarm attitude, help control dengue

The number of dengue deaths has passed 127 and counting. The affected persons have exceeded 9000. In 2005 the number of patients that died from dengue was 28 while there were 5994 dengue patients.

In 2006, 48 patients died from dengue while 11980 were affected. In 2007 the number of patients who died from dengue is 28 while 7327 patients were affected. In 2008 only 19 patients died from dengue while 4825 patients were affected.


The little creature more dangerous than man

This year’s figures are very alarming because we are in the sixth month of the year and over 120 patients have already died from dengue while more than 8500 persons are affected. 52 deaths have been reported only in the month of May (last month) this year. Colombo, Gampaha, Kalutara, Kandy, Kurunegala, Galle, Matara, Hambantota, Kegalle, Matale, Batticaloa, Trincomalee and Puttalam are the districts that are badly affected.

Despite talks about dengue, symptoms, treatment, mosquitoes, cleaning mosquito breeding sites, etc. there are many other important aspects that have not been touched on. Some facts that indeed deserve attention are: Basic information about dengue fever. Symptoms and prevention can be found everywhere. Therefore it is useful to pay attention to the facts that were not highlighted so far.

According to Media Coordinator to the Healthcare and Nutrition Ministry W. M. D. Wanninayake when a person gets fever he or she needs to seek medical treatment without delay. It is better to seek medical treatment from a state hospital or a Government dispensary.

This is because such institutions have a proper follow up program for suspect dengue patients. Seeking medical treatment early from a state hospital is vital.

Mr. Wanninayake pointed out the importance of cleaning hidden mosquito breeding sites such as fallen tree leaves, especially the parts of banana trees and similar trees. Banana leaves also hold clean water in which dengue mosquitoes can breed.

In some houses tables are being kept on small water pots in order to prevent ants from climbing to the table. These water pots are another good place to breed dengue mosquitoes.

Dengue larvae can survive in a dry environment for a period of one year. Even after one year these larvae can produce dengue mosquitoes when they receive water. This shows the danger of maintaining unclean surroundings.

Recently Ratnapura district was hit by Chikungunya - another type of fever caused by mosquitoes. The reason was attributed to mosquito breeding grounds found in gem mines scattered all over Ratnapura district.

Sri Lanka is about to eradicate Malaria. Remarkably no Malaria deaths have been reported from Sri Lanka during the past three years.

It is also resulted in an unprecedented 99 per cent decrease in the reported Malaria burden during the past ten years. This is the latest situation about Malaria in Sri Lanka and it shows how good Sri Lanka is doing when it comes to controlling Malaria. So why cannot we control dengue? What is wrong and where?

Here is half of the answer for above question. The number of warnings issued by the Healthcare and Nutrition Ministry to the persons who kept mosquito breeding sites within their properties in the Colombo city is nearly 500.

It shows how many wealthy and educated persons breed dengue mosquitoes. According to Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage, professors and doctors are among those found guilty of keeping mosquito breeding sites within their properties.

So no need to talk about the lukewarm attitude of the ordinary people towards eradicating dengue. The other important fact is, 35 percent of dengue patients are women and 25 percent of them school children which means they had been infected when they are at home or school.

According to some recent news reports some authorities closed down schools when they found that many school children were infected. What they should have done was to take immediate steps to clean the school environment because the dengue mosquito can fly only 500 meters.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dengue is transmitted by the bite of an Aedes mosquito infected with anyone of the four dengue viruses. It occurs in tropical and sub-tropical areas of the world.

Symptoms appear 3 -14 days after the infective bite. Dengue fever is a febrile illness that affects infants, young children and adults.

Symptoms range from a mild fever, to incapacitating high fever, with severe headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pain, and rash.

There are no specific antiviral medicines for dengue. It is important to maintain hydration. Use of acetylsalicylic acid (e.g. aspirin) and non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g. Ibuprofen) is not recommended.

Dengue haemorrhagic fever (fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, bleeding) is a potentially lethal complication, affecting mainly children. Early clinical diagnosis and careful clinical management by experienced physicians and nurses increase survival of patients.

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