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Dengue fever rampant in Sri Lanka Featured

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Visitors to Sri Lanka have been warned of a doubling in the number of cases of people with the potentially deadly dengue fever.

The fever, carried by mosquitos, is common in tropical areas and endemic to parts of Asia and the Caribbean. It is most common in Sri Lanka during the monsoon region, which runs until late July.

This year the Government fears the disease may be running out of control with health authorities reporting 7,000 cases since the start of 2004, against 3,500 cases during the whole of 2003.

The outbreak is particularly bad in Colombo and Galle and up to 50 people have died from dengue fever this year.

The Sri Lanka government has urged citizens to try to prevent mosquitos from breeding.

The Foreign Office said it was not aware of the problem being worse than in previous years and has not changed its travel advice. However, it said it would be speaking to its contacts in Sri Lanka to clarify the situation and would be closely monitoring developments.

On its website, www.fco.gov.uk, the Foreign Office says in a section on health advice: "While many medical personnel have received their training in the UK and other Western countries, emergency medical treatment is not available countrywide and injured persons are brought to Colombo for treatment. The options for repatriation to the UK or neighbouring countries in an emergency are limited. Medical facilities are not always of a standard expected in the UK and treatment in private hospitals can be expensive.

"Malaria exists in parts of Sri Lanka and the dengue fever bearing mosquito is found throughout the country. Outbreaks of dengue increase during the monsoon season. Before travelling, you should contact your GP for medical and inoculation advice. Rabies is widespread and common in local cats, dogs, squirrels, monkeys and other animals."

The Foreign Office's headline advice to Sri Lanka warns there is a risk from terrorism in Sri Lanka, but most visits to the country are trouble-free.


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