Colombo: Sri Lanka is deploying 10,000 troops to tackle areas of stagnant water and other mosquito-breeding grounds in an effort to contain the dengue virus, the island's health minister said on Monday.

Maithripala Sirisena said the troops will join a clean-up operation this week to fight dengue, which is spread by mosquitoes, after 75 deaths from the disease this year.

Stagnant water is a key breeding ground for mosquitoes and the authorities have begun prosecuting people who leave out containers which collect standing water. The forces will be helping to identify and remove such containers.

"Security forces will assist the national campaign against dengue," Sirisena said in a statement. "It will also be compulsory for all schools to spend one hour on Friday to clean up their premises."

Official figures show that 15,000 people were infected with dengue in the first five months of this year compared to 10,300 in the corresponding period last year.

However, health officials say the numbers could be much higher because many sufferers are not counted or seek treatment from private hospitals.

Dengue fever causes severe flu-like symptoms and there are no specific medications available to treat the disease.

Most people recover within two weeks, but it can be fatal if it leads to hemorrhaging.


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