The dengue fever outbreak in Sri Lanka continues to spread. Health officials reported that as of Monday, July 24, there have been over 100,000 cases and 296 deaths since the start of 2017. According to the World Health Organization, around 43 percent of cases were reported in the Western Province. The most impacted areas include the districts of Colombo, Gampaha, Kurunegala, Ranapura, and Kalutara. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies warned that some health facilities are becoming overwhelmed and are at capacity attempting to treat people with the disease.
These numbers represent a significant jump in the annual number of cases when compared to 2016, when a total of 54,727 cases and 78 deaths were reported for the entire year. Health officials believe that the rise in cases is due to recent monsoon rains and floods that have left stagnant water and trash, making them ideal breeding areas for mosquitoes.
Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne disease mostly found in urban and semi-urban areas. Symptoms of classic dengue fever include fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, fatigue, nausea, and rash. Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever (DHF) is a potentially deadly complication that is characterized by high fever, enlargement of the liver, and hemorrhaging. No specific treatment or vaccine is currently available. Be aware that aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen) should be avoided as these drugs may worsen bleeding issues associated with the disease. Patients may be given doses of acetaminophen (paracetamol).
To minimize the risk of contracting mosquito-borne diseases, use insect repellent, wear covering clothing, and consider sleeping under mosquito netting if in high-risk areas. If you develop a high fever during or after travel in areas affected by dengue, seek immediate medical attention.