High risk of dengue outbreak in southern districts this monsoon

The recent surveillance and risk assessment of the six southern districts revealed the high risk of dengue outbreak in 2023 with the onset of the monsoon season. According to Dengue Vector Surveillance and Risk Assessment Report, dengue cases were only detected around May in the past. However, around 40 cases are already detected as of the 14th of April. Hence, the Ministry of Health advises the public to take extra precautions to avert a major outbreak of dengue. 

Bhutan saw the worst dengue outbreak in 2019 with about 5,000 cases and six deaths, including two pregnant women.

Common dengue infection symptoms are fever, headache, joint pain, rashes on the body, and pain in the back of the eyes. Severe dengue can be life-threatening within a few hours and often requires care at a hospital.

As of the second week of April, 40 cases were reported from Sarpang, Chhukha, Samdrup Jongkhar, Gomtu in Samtse, Pema Gatshel, and Zhemgang.

The 2019 outbreak report states inadequate support from the public and the lack of assistance from relevant sectors. The report found southern residents having empty containers, barrels, and tyres with stagnant water in their surroundings.

People not using mosquito nets, wearing short sleeve shirts, and keeping stagnant water in flower pots were some of the reasons cited for the dengue outbreak in 2019.

The 2019 report also found that most infected people had mosquitoes breeding in the water stored in refrigerator drip pans in their homes.

The Ministry of Health calls for collective cooperation from everyone to prevent a major outbreak.

“People who own workshops have to make sure that there are no unused tyres left unattended. They have to cover it nicely. If they have to store water they have to keep the water closed. Even the toilet and the surrounding should be kept clean. And we can see lots of flower pots in the south around the building and their corridor, we should not be keeping that that filled with water, so that should be kept clean,” said Rinxin Jamtsho, the Chief Programme Officer of the Department of Public Health of the health ministry.

Moreover, the ministry urges people travelling to the southern districts take extra precautions.

Mosquitoes usually bite in the morning and evening hours. The ministry urges Thromdes and building owners to initiate cleaning campaigns around their respective areas.

Devika Pradhan & Singye Dema

Edited by Sherub Dorji

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