P’ling starts work to prevent dengue fever

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

Results of five dengue cases, which tested positive when tested on rapid test kits from Nganglam and Pangbang hospitals, were sent to the Royal Centre for Disease Control (RCDC) in Thimphu for further confirmation.

The sample results were forwarded as officials couldn’t rely on the test kits although it tested positive.

The health ministry’s chief programme officer with communicable disease division, Rixin Jamtsho said the RCDC will confirm the results today.

On March 26, Nganglam reported two dengue positive cases, one IgG case and one NS1, while Panbang reported of two IgG cases and one IgM case on March 20.

“Of the total, three are IgG cases, which indicates infection from the past, meaning the patients are not suffering from dengue at the moment,” Rixin Jamtsho said.

But the other two cases were IgM and NS1, which indicate that the patients were infected with dengue fever in recent time.

Rinxin Jamtsho said that health ministry has already started putting in place all the measures for prevention and control. General public are requested to practice precautionary measures, he added.

In 2019, Rixin Jamtsho said about 5,400 people tested positive for dengue fever from across the country out of 22,600 patients tested for dengue. A total of 9,500 were clinically screened for dengue across the country. Six people died out of which four were pregnant women.

Phuentsholing reported the first and the highest cases.

Currently, in Phuentsholing, the thromde has already formed a Thromde Dengue Taskforce in its effort to prevent a dengue outbreak. The taskforce on Friday went on a vector surveillance and advocacy programme and discovered several spots where mosquitoes were breeding. About 17 different breeding centres have been identified.

Thrompon Uttar Kumar Rai, who is the chairman of the taskforce, said focal persons have been identified to monitor the breeding centres so that the larvae are timely destroyed.

“Advocacy and awareness are also being done,” he said.

Since Phuentsholing saw the country’s highest number of dengue positive cases in 2019, the thrompon said that it was equally important for people to shoulder responsibility in working towards preventing an outbreak this time.

“We are all already tackling Covid-19 and a dengue outbreak at this time will cripple us,” he said, adding that hospital and staffs will face huge challenges. “It will be risky for us all.”

Phuentsholing has consistently seen dengue fever cases in the last five years. Prior to 2019, the highest was reported in 2016 with 857 positive cases but no casualties were reported.

Last year, the first dengue case was reported in July and the fever quickly spread to other dzongkhags. By November, Phuentsholing had seen more than 4,000 positive cases.

An epidemiologist from the vector-borne disease control program (VDCP) under the department of public health, Dr Kinley Penjor is also currently in Phuentsholing.

“A VDCP draft as per the national plan was presented to the taskforce,” he said. “ The Phuentsholing thromde taskforce is in line to the national plan.”

The VDCP, Dr Kinley Penjor said, will carry on the vector surveillance. Further, vector control and source reductions will be carried out based on the findings.

From March 18 to March 24, VDCP team has inspected 5,766 containers (1,538 wet and 700 dry) 116 buildings and 302 units and premises in Phuentsholing.

Out of 302 units, it was found that 15 were potential sites for dengue vectors. In terms of containers, 142 were found to be potential vector sites. It was also found that a large number of stacked tyres at multiple workshops and scrap dealers at Amochhu area are potential mosquito breeding sites.

The surveillance report has recommended thromde and drungkhag to impose strict rules of cleanliness of building surroundings, automobile workshops, and drainage system. System for regular inspection should be instituted and penalties should be imposed to those who do not comply with the rules, the report further recommends.

Although no dengue case has been reported as of now this year, fogging is also being carried out.