Dengue an illness that could be fatal has risen again. It is now on
the increase and claims lives from different parts of the island.
According to the statistics this year, the highest number of deaths have
been reported from Kandy district. The health officials have already
warned that amount of victims would rise if necessary action against
dengue is not taken by the authorities and the public.
Dengue is caused by a virus. This virus could be commonly found in
all tropical parts of the would especially in the urban areas. The virus
is transmitted by vector mosquitoes named Aedes aegypti and Aedes
albopictus. The mosquitoes that transmit the dengue virus could be
easily recognized by the black and white stripes on their abdomen and
white spots on their legs. During a blood meal the mosquitoes ingest the
virus to their bodies from an infected person.
This virus could be transmitted to another when mosquitoes bite. They
usually bite during the daytime - be it in the morning or evening. These
mosquitoes are usually seen in dim areas. The female mosquitoes lay eggs
in clean torpid waters, for instance inside flower vases, old tires,
drains, coconut shells etc. The eggs may survive for over one year.
Mainly there are two types. They are Dengue Fever (DF) and Dengue
Haemorrhagic Fever (DHF). The symptoms of Dengue Fever (DF) are high
fever, headache, rashes on the body, muscle and joint pains, nausea and
vomiting. These symptoms may occur within five-seven days after a bite
of an infected mosquito.
The medical researches have found out that only a small percentage
develop Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever. This is a crucial stage since it may
lead to severe bleeding of the internal organs. The symptoms of Dengue
Haemorrhagic Fever are similar to those of Dengue Fever but also include
severe stomach pain, enlargement of the liver, brown or black coloured
vomit or faeces and bleeding from nose and gums.
There is another type called Dengue Shock Syndrome (DSS). In this
case the fever of a patient with Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever may suddenly
drop but the patient may feel rather ill followed by the symptoms like
coldness and paleness of body, drowsiness, acceleration of breathing and
pulse rate etc.
The medical information says dengue virus may cause in the drop in
the platelet count. Platelet is responsible in clotting the blood and
they repair the damaged blood vessels. In an infected person, the
platelet count is a useful measure of diagnosis. Other diagnosis may
comprise the presence of specific antibodies to dengue virus.
The Medical Officers advise that the dengue suspects should be given
bed rest. The children with fever should be kept away from school. They
should be given plenty of fluids to drink. If Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever
is suspected, the victim should be taken to the hospital immediately for
intense medical care. Prevention of dengue is better than cure. Hence
there are many ways of preventing the disease. Vector control is one of
the most convenient ways.
The vector mosquitoes could be controlled biologically of physically.
Biological control measure is using parasites of pathogens to destroy
the stages in the life cycle of mosquitoes. This includes destroying of
larval stages of mosquitoes by introducing fish species in to the water
bodies. The fish would feed on larvae and life cycle is disrupted. This
is a widely used control measure.
Physical control is the eradication of all possible mosquito-breeding
sites. The mosquitoes may breed in drains, discarded cans, tins, buckets
pots vases, tyres, coconut shells etc. and in stagnant water bodies like
ponds, pits and the like. The frequent water flow should be allowed in
drains. The water in flower vases, pots kept indoors should be changed
frequently or few salt crystals should be added.
Personal protection which is prevention of being bitten by mosquitoes
is important too. This includes wearing long garments so the arms and
legs are less exposed. Mosquito repellents too could be used. The
repellents make the human body less attractive to mosquitoes as they may
hinder the mosquitoes sensory reception.
We must always focus on keeping our surroundings, schools,
workplaces, homes and gardens clean and free of garbage. This is an
effective way of preventing this deadly disease.
Community as a whole should draw attention towards the cleanliness of
our environment. It is praiseworthy the note that islandwide anti-dengue
campaigns are now in progress. These should be widened under the
guidance of Health Ministry, Public Health Inspectors, Government
Institutions in order to carry out the alertness of the disease to all
segments of the society.
Uva Provincial Council Chief Minister Shasindra Kumara Rajapaksa is
held in high esteem by many local mediamen in Moneragala District for
his correct decisions impartiality and respect for media. It was proved
when he condemened the behaviour of one of his employees at Kataragama
Basnayake Nilames office for obstructing a media person who was
photographing the Kataragama Esala Perahera.
The media person concerned is myself who was waiting to take a
phogoraph of Basnayake Nilame parading in the Perahera with his retinue
guarding the tusker carrying the casket of relics. At that time an
employee demanded my press identity card and I produced it. But it
seemed that he did not have any idea about a press identity card. He
told me to withdraw from the place, he spoke to me rudely in the
presence of the large number of spectators. I left the place and I was
not able to cover this important event for Daily News and Dinamina.
I wrote the full story about this incident to Basnayake Nilame
Sasheendra Kumara Rajapaksa and he had sent me a letter after he became
the Chief Minister of Uva, apologizing for the inconvenience caused.
This gesture on his part has been appreciated by many mediamen who were
present with me on this occasion.
China’s highly successful huge countrywide program since 1980 to
establish peoples forests referred to in China as ‘household forests’
for lease periods of 30 to 70 years continues to be given top priority
fast changing the face of the countryside, as well as fast improving
rural environmental conditions because these forests cumulatively serve
as veritable Carbon sinks sequestering and fixing atmospheric Carbon.
These ‘household forests’ are akin to the agro-forestry type ‘home
gardeners’ or extended farmers woodlots established in Sri Lanka by the
Forest Department on a small scale for shorter lease periods of 25 years
under its Community Forestry Program harnessing local traditional
Vietnam on the other hand has also an ongoing program to establish
five million hectares of forests especially in the areas devastated by
‘Agent Orange’ during the Vietnam US war.
The reasons given for this large-scale forestation program to
mitigate poverty, to rehabilitate damaged and degraded natural forests
and to restore degraded landscapes are valid.
However, the most important thing from a climatic standpoint is that
Vietnam too is establishing storehouses for Carbon and contributing to a
reduction in the emission of the Greenhouse gas Carbon dioxide which
together with other Greenhouse gases causes global warming and rising
sea levels, which are of major global concern today.