In the midst of the COVID- 19 outbreak in Sri Lanka, coverage of other diseases have been at a minimum. However Dr. Sudath Samaraweera, the Chief Epidemiologist of the Government Epidemiology Unit (GEU) stated that he expects a rise in Dengue cases due to the current rainy season.
Dengue is a mosquito borne viral infection caused by the dengue virus (DENV). It is transmitted by female mosquitoes mainly of the Aedes aegypti species and also of the Aedes albopictus species, though transmission through the latter species occurs to a lesser extent. According to the WHO, early detection of the disease and access to proper medical care can lower the fatality rate of severe dengue to 1%.
- High fever along with two other symptoms such as:
- Severe headache
- Pain behind the eyes
- Muscle and joint pains
- Swollen glands
When it manifests into severe dengue, following symptoms are seen:
- High fever drops
- Severe abdominal pain
- Bleeding gums
- Blood present in vomit
- Persistent nausea
- Rapid breathing
Severe dengue can lead to respiratory distress, severe bleeding, plasma leakage and impairment of organs.
Dr. Samaraweera revealed that there was a higher incidence of cases in December 2019 that continued into January 2020 where 11595 cases were reported. He observed that the cases started decreasing due to the curfew measures in place as people were less prone to travelling and contracting the DENV virus. However, he stated that due to the curfew being lifted in many districts coupled with the rainy season, there could be a surge in cases.
“While the total dengue cases for the year 2020, as of yet, is 19 446, I believe there could be a disparity in numbers as there might have been unreported cases and irregularities in reporting due to the current COVID- 19 outbreak,” he stated and added that people should take necessary precautions to ensure they do not contract dengue.
Precautions to prevent dengue usually focus on ensuring that mosquito breeding spots are cleared and that one is protected from mosquito bites. “Keep the surrounding environment clean and make sure any area that water collects in is cleaned regularly. Waste should also be disposed appropriately so that water won’t collect in the waste material,” he said, adding that people should also take appropriate measures to prevent mosquito bites by using repellents, mosquito nets, window screens and wearing clothing that minimises skin exposure to mosquitoes.
He noted that transmission of dengue in schools wouldn’t be seen for a while as schools are closed but warned that work places and construction sites can be breeding places for mosquitoes thus he urged that not only household environment but environment around work places and construction sites too should be kept clean.
“No COVID- 19 patient has been reported to have contracted dengue as of yet, but precautions should be taken to prevent it from happening as we do not know what would occur if so,” he remarked. Dr. Samaraweera advised that people shouldn’t forget about the incidence of dengue in the light of the COVID- 19 outbreak and that it was a public responsibility to ensure a dengue outbreak too wouldn’t happen.
2020 Dengue Cases in Sri Lanka
Total (as of 20.05.2020)- 19 446
Source: Government Epidemiology Unit,