The National Early Warning, Alert and Response Surveillance System records possible outbreak of notifiable diseases in the country

Health: Soon after the Department of Public Health launched the National Early Warning, Alert and Response Surveillance System (NEWARS) last month, outbreaks of mumps and chicken pox were reported in Mongar, Gasa, Haa, Dagana and Thimphu.

The system that started operating this August, receives information either via Short Message Services (SMS) or Internet, from various health centres in the country on possible diseases in the locality.

The information received are then investigated and verified by officials at the Public Health Laboratory (PHL) in Thimphu and also confirm if it’s an outbreak.

A screenshot of a disease alert from NEWARS

A screenshot of a disease alert from NEWARS

Immunologist with the PHL, Sonam Pelden said that although no mortalities were reported from the outbreaks, a total of 109 individuals with chicken pox and 377 cases of mumps were identified as of yesterday. However, new cases of infection are still being reported from different regions on a daily basis through NEWARS.

In August, one of the day care centres in Thimphu reported an outbreak of chicken pox. Almost all its students, which number more than 70, were infected, the centre’s proprietor said.

Sonam Pelden said that although chicken pox and mumps are highly contagious viral diseases, the nature of the disease is self-limiting, which means, after a certain period of time, the infected individual recovers on their own.

Chicken pox is a highly contagious viral disease caused by Varicella Zoster. Early signs and symptoms include nausea, loss of appetite, muscles aches, and headache followed by characteristic rash on the body with small itchy blisters. The incubation period of the disease is between 14-18 days of the infection.

Mumps is also a viral disease caused by Mumps Virus. Signs and symptoms include fever, muscle pain and headache with painful swelling of one or both parotid glands. The incubation period is between 16-18 days of the infection.

Both diseases are airborne and can be transmitted through droplet infections.

Sonam Pelden said currently there are no vaccines for both the diseases in the country. “Isolation of an infected individual, adequate rest and intake of fluid along with supportive therapies to subside the pain are the only treatments,” she said adding personal hygiene also prevents the spread of such infections.

Younten Tshedup 


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