Sri Lanka urges action against leptospirosis amidst surge warnings

Sri Lanka urges action against leptospirosis amidst surge warnings

Sri Lanka urges action against leptospirosis amidst surge warnings

Written by Hassaan Shazuli

26 May, 2020 | 3:57 pm

COLOMBO (News1st): Sri Lankan health authorities have urged preventive action against the leptospirosis disease, warning that cases could spike amidst a cultivation season in the island nation.

At least 10 people have died this year while 1800 have been infected due to leptospirosis which is spread mainly by contact with water or soil contaminated by the urine of infected animals, epidemiology unit statistics show.

“The epidemiology unit has received a high number of notifications of leptospirosis cases in the past few weeks,” Chief Epidemiologist Dr Sudath Samaraweera said in a state document seen by News 1st.

The disease shot to the limelight after it claimed the life of a navy officer amidst the country’s battle against the coronavirus in late April.

Farmers are believed to be highly susceptible to the disease as they ramp up agriculture along with the beginning of the ‘Yala’ cultivation season which runs from May to August.

“…there is a possibility of experiencing an increase in the leptospirosis incidence, especially in areas where paddy cultivation is prevalent,” Dr Samaraweera stressed.

“Therefore it should be ensured that the leptospirosis surveillance activities are continued at the field level”.

The chief epidemiologist recommended prevention methods such as creating awareness among high-risk groups and providing doxycycline chemoprophylaxis – a drug used as a cure from the disease.

A study recently found that there is a discrepancy in leptospirosis cases and deaths recorded in hospital registers and surveillance data of the Epidemiology Unit.

In 2018, hospital records showed that there were 11,384 leptospirosis cases while the epidemiology unit only recorded 5257 infections.

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