Police have arrested 53 people in Sri Lanka for failing to eliminate stagnant water and other mosquito breeding grounds in a government effort to prevent dengue fever.

The police statement issued on Monday said thousands of police, army and health officers searched 11 500 houses in the capital Colombo on Sunday. The people who were arrested face fines and up to six months in jail.

Health officials warn that dengue fever has increased because residents have grown more careless about cleaning their properties and eliminating mosquito breeding grounds. The illness has killed 74 people and infected more than 15 000 this year. - Sapa-AP