Lhakpa Quendren | Gelephu

The health ministry has alerted six southern dzongkhags to take preventive measures against the dengue virus.

A total of 40 cases have already been reported from Sarpang (18) and Phuentsholing (10), among others. Cases have also been reported from Gomtu, Pemagatshel, Samdrupjongkhar, and Zhemgang

Chief Programme Officer of the Communicable Disease Division of the Department of Public Health, Rixin Jamtsho, said that dengue cases normally begin in early May, but have already appeared in early April this year, increasing the risk of an outbreak during the upcoming monsoon season.

According to Jamtsho, the dzongkhags that have already faced several seasonal and tropical diseases are now prone to dengue, which has emerged as a concern for public health.

As part of the prevention efforts, the health ministry has implemented a number of control measures, including surveillance, which found that containers, which can hold water, are present in and around buildings in towns and workshops.

These containers can provide an ideal breeding ground for the dengue mosquito.

While the current dengue vector Aedes indices (household index, container index, and Breteau Index) suggest a low threat, the ministry has recommended that the southern dzongkhags initiate control measures through community and multisectoral involvement.

The ministry also advised residents to remove unwanted articles such as plastic cups, bottles, coconut shells, tyres, scraps, and other containers.

The health ministry aims to initiate a public awareness campaign, conduct a cleaning campaign, and step up vector surveillance and capacity building for clinical dengue management.

The ministry also plans to increase the sensitivity of district health workers for early warnings and strengthen collaboration and coordination with stakeholders for source reduction activities.

The biggest dengue outbreak Bhutan faced was in 2019, registering over 5,000 cases and six deaths, including two pregnant women.

The outbreak underscores the need for collaborative efforts from the public and relevant sectors to keep dengue under control.