Non cooperation by the public identified as a major hindrance

Outbreak: Despite intensive efforts to prevent the spread of dengue in Phuentsholing, the number of cases had risen to 27 as of yesterday.

Two cases were identified as contracted from across the border.

In the last three days, Phuentsholing hospital reported seven cases with the latest being detected yesterday. However, no deaths have been reported so far.

The disease is transmitted by mosquitoes infected with the dengue virus. Symptoms show up three to 14 days after the mosquito bite.

Mild and high fever, severe headache, pain behind the eyes, joint pains, and rash are some symptoms.

Medical officer-in-charge, Dr Thinley Pelzang, said a team with the Vector-borne Disease Control Programme (VDCP), of the Department of Public Health had come from Gelephu to monitor and control the outbreak.

“They are carrying out vector surveillance, indoor residual spray (IRS), fogging, and field investigations at present,” he said.

Once a case is reported, the team identifies the location of the case. “The team then implements door-to-door case findings in that particular locality,” he said.

At present there are nine dengue patients at the Phuentsholing hospital. They are kept in isolation and under observation. Daily blood reports are studied.

Only one patient has been referred to the Thimphu hospital since the outbreak early last month. The other patients have all recovered.

A report by the VDCP team after the outbreak attributes “people’s negative response” as the major hindrance in controlling dengue in the border town.

Despite informing people after making door-to-door visits, the chief program officer with the disease control program, Rinzin Namgay said immature vectors were still found in bathroom water containers and refrigerator dipping pans in many houses.

“We have informed all the people but they have been not very responsive,” he said.

The VDCP report also states that many houses in Phuentsholing are locked from outside, which made the IRS team unable to carry out the repellant residual spray of the area. There are also residents in the town who deliberately refuse to allow the repellant to be sprayed in their homes.

Of the 926 houses the team visited until August 27, only 364 allowed the team to spray inside their homes. The team was refused entry into 216 houses or 23 percent of the total houses visited.

The remaining 346 houses were locked. The hospital has to hire and deploy “spray men” from across the border, as locals are not willing to do the job.

Meanwhile, dengue has spread sporadically in numerous areas in the town. The Telecom, NPPF, and PHP colonies, and the NHDCL area are some locations where dengue has spread.

Rinzin Namgay said that their team has completed awareness programmes across the town as well as at the industrial estate in Pasakha, he added.

In West Bengal, more than 5,000 dengue cases have been reported causing 23 deaths.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing