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Medi snips

28 June, 2020

Leptospirosis cases up- could rise further due to rains

The Epidemiology Unit has warned that Leptospirosis cases have risen to an unusually high level and are likely to rise still further due to the heavy rains and flooding in the country . At the present count on June 8 the total number of cases notified to the Epidemiology Unit of the Ministry of Health stood at 2,531 up by 333 since the beginning of the month, June 1. The Ratnapura district has reportedly the highest number of patients admitted for treatment (678) far above most other districts. Epidemiology Unit sources were quoted as saying, that an increased number was observed in January, February and May. Other districts where cases exceeded the200 mark included Kalutara (296) and Galle ( 205) . Those that passed the hundred mark were Kegalle ( 169) Badulla ( 160 ) Anuradhapura ( 133) Colombo (114 cases) while Matara had 100 cases as of June 8, with Hambantota and Polonnaruwa close behind at 98 and 87.

On the positive side at least 12 districts had less than a hundred cases, the majority of them in the North. Mannar had the least – five, Kilinochchi ( 9) Jaffna ( 14) , Batticaloa 19, Trincomalee 21, while Nuwara Eliya had 30 and Matale 40.

Äccording to health directors in those areas, continuous vigilance and cleaning of high risk areas were responsible for maintaining a new low.

“With the Meteorology Department forecasting that wet weather will continue in most parts of the country over the next few days due to the South West monsoon which is settling in , especially in paddy lands and farming districts we can expect to see a further rise in cases following the rains”, an epidemiologist told the Sunday Observer on grounds of anonymity.

According to the Met Department wet weather is likely to be experienced in the Western, North Western and Sabaragamuwa provinces. Most of these areas are farming lands.

Vulnerable persons

Health experts expressed concern that the rodents, mainly rats were finding new places to hide. They warned vulnerable people such as farmers, persons who clean drains, those working in mines in marshy lands, to take precautions when going out to work. Children should not be allowed to swim in contaminated water or use playgrounds that are polluted, they added.

“The virus enters the body through cuts and wounds, the mouth, nose and eyes. Wear boots and gloves. If you have cuts and wounds don’t go to work,” they said, adding that all Public Health Inspectors and MOH officers have Doxycycline tablets free of charge. Those working in risky jobs should take two tablets before they go to work and should drink plenty of water and keep themselves well hydrated while working . The tablets give them 90% protection for up to a week. They must also cover wounds with water proof plasters and wear boots if possible”, they said.


On recognising the symptoms they said that the main symptoms were, sudden onset of high fever, chills, conjunctival suffusion, muscle tenderness notably in the calf and lumber areas, intense headache, jaundice and decrease in passing urine.

Asked whom to contact, the sources said patients showing such symptoms must immediately seek medical treatment from preferably a Government hospital. Any delay can lead to serious complications with renal failure and heart failure.” they warned.

Health Ministry sources told the Sunday Observer that Leptospirosis was a public health concern and that a set of national guidelines for the management of the disease which is a notifiable one, has been sent to all district and provincial hospitals with awareness raising pamphlets printed for patients attending OPDs in all three languages .“Though most farmers and others in the vulnerable communities are aware of how the disease spreads, they need to be constantly reminded to take the Doxycyxcline tablets before going to work and follow the guidelines we have issued on how to protect themselves with the right equipment”, a health source said.

Clean up and prevent dengue outbreak - Dengue prevention authorities

Dengue cases have drastically reduced in the past two months but dengue authorities say the current weather patterns of rains followed by sunshine could provide ideal breeding grounds for the dengue carrying vector the Aeges Egypti. At present, 20,498 suspected accumulative cases have been reported to the Epidemiology Unit. The highest number was recorded in the Western Province with the Colombo district having - 2,952 cases. The Municipal Council area had 776 accumulated cases but has shown a drastic cut in numbers in May compared to the number in January . Similar cuts in numbers were seen in Gampaha, Kalutara, Kandy,Matale , Nuwara Eliya, Jaffna , Batticaloa and Trincomalee.

Sources said that it was the combined efforts of the Agri forces, the Presidential Taskforce and civil society which helped to sustain these new low figures.

”However, we cannot afford to relax. The public must cooperate fully in this effort and clean their backyards and neighbourhoods. Get rid of all small containers, plastics, and other water collecting utensils. Clean your gutters and drains. Those who own uncleared lands will be warned and taken to court. Also allow Public Health Inspectors to inspect your gardens without hindering them. Such action will also be dealt with strictly”, a health source said.

All schools, temples, building sites are to be cleaned in the current Dengue Prevention Program. “We have specially requested school authorities to ensure that the premises are clean and free of mosquito attracting items and children are taught to put all their used lunch boxes, lunch sheets and yoghurt cups in disposable bins. We have also told those interested in recycling waste material to collect used plastics and glass from certain collecting centres”, sources said.