Driving down baseline I saw four billboards for Mahinda and one lowly banner from the Min Health, advising Sri Lankans to avoid standing water. Seeing as about 3,000 people have been killed since Mahinda took power compared to a handful from Chikungunya I guess it’s proportional. Standing water is where mosquitoes breed, and mosquitoes are how Chikungunya (and dengue) spreads. Standing (i.e. stagnant) water is also gross, but I wonder how much people can do about it. Sure, we can not throw away siri-siri bags, but the foul canals in Rajagiriya, effective cesspool of Beira Lake and persistent flooding of Colombo seem like municipal problems. Aside from being nasty, they’re also a serious health concern.
This recent Chikungunya seems to be a South Asian thing, so I dunno if its related to the recent flooding in Colombo (photo above), but it can’t help. That photo is from the Nawala shortcut, which always floods, drawing water from the fetid canal below. I’ve seen people fishing there, but I don’t think it’s for the eating. It smells funny and I wouldn’t dip a toe in it. Aside from there, Battaramulla always floods, and the road to Colombo becomes one lane and nearly unnavigable. Worse, you have to drive slow to avoid cavernous potholes, potholes that stay full long after the rains have passed.
The anophelese aedes mosquito is the blood filled bugger inside my mosquito net and the carrier of dengue, Chikungunya, and assorted unsavories. The disease carrying female lives for 1-2 weeks, spending 5-14 days in water. The length of gestation depends on temperature, and Colombo being bloody hot, I’d guess it’s on the low end here. So, that means standing water that doesn’t clear within a week can breed mosquitoes.
The heavy flooding was about a month ago, the photo being from November 19th. Most of the main water cleared, but in certain places, like off Park Road, there was water for a couple weeks. I dunno about the rest of Colombo I don’t see.
In addition, there is constant standing water in the form of the filthy canals. You can see the slum lined waters in Rajagiriya and everywhere, non-moving, sickly green, with floating bubble of muck. They’re nasty and noxious and worse, are a mosquito maternity ward. That, plus the flooding, has made Chikungunya an epidemic in Colombo, and I suspect similar trends in Batti and Jaffna, etc. This is not bad simply because it’s ‘bad’, but because the productivity loss is enormous. I personally know half a dozen people hit with the cursed chicken, and scores more acquaintances. Those people all missed at least a week of work and clogged the hospitals. That costs the city, and the nation.
Of course, at this time the mayor of Colombo is still a trishaw driver, elected in an electoral snafu under the (dishonored) agreement that his slate would nominate Cooray. But not to fuss. Not like anyone’s getting sick over it.