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Dengue fever claims 227 lives in Sri Lanka this year
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The number of deaths from Dengue has risen to 227 while more than 20,896 cases have been reported in Sri Lanka so far this year, the Epidemiological Unit of the Ministry Health said on Monday.

The Epidemiological Unit said in its latest statistics that of the 20,896 cases, the highest number of patients were reported from June, totaling 7,049.

This represents a sharp increase as 4,156 Dengue cases and 85 deaths were reported for the whole year of 2008.

Health officials said that the majority of these cases have been reported from areas like Gampaha, Kegalle, Kandy and Colombo.

Government officials said the Dengue virus has hit countrywide this year affecting mostly the youth, many of them being students.

The rapidly rise in the level of the epidemic has forced the health authorities to carry out extensive public awareness campaign to eradicate the mosquito based epidemic.

Households have been warned to keep the environment free of mosquitoes. Those who allow the mosquitoes to breed by allowing stagnating water face prosecution with a special hotline being made available for public information.

The World Health Organization said some 2.5 billion people, two-fifths of the world's population, are now at risk from dengue and estimated that there may be 50 million cases of Dengue infection worldwide every year.

(Xinhua News Agency August 4, 2009)

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