Five days after Damphu Central School in Tsirang reported the first case of influenza outbreak among students, the infection has been largely contained.

The number of new cases reduced by almost 80 percent with five new cases in the last two days. Medical team from Damphu hospital has been monitoring the sick students.

Most students who had to be isolated were discharged, Principal Dawa Tshering said. However, the discharged students sleep in a separate room in the main hostel.

On September 17, at least 15 students tested positive for influenza A. More than 60 students who fell sick and showed signs of influenza-like illness (ILI) were isolated. All the sick students are boarders.

The sick students complained of headache, high fever and body pain accompanied by joints pain. While few students suffered from diarrhoea and vomiting, some had mild fever.

The first case was reported around 5pm on September 16. Upon conducting a rapid flu test, two students tested positive. While the students were soon discharged with symptomatic management, health officials advised the school authority to isolate other students with ILI immediately.

After the number of students kept increasing with similar symptoms of ILI, a team of health officials led by General Duty Medical Officer, influenza focal person, nursing staff, and lab technicians visited the school on Sunday.

When the team visited the school, 124 students were found suffering from ILI. Among them 90 were boys. Of the 124 cases, rapid flu testing was conducted on 7 samples. Six tested positive for influenza A.

Dzongkhag Health Officer Tashi Dawa said that with strict monitoring and surveillance, the outbreak could be prevented. “It was symptomatic treatment we concentrated on that helped reduce pain and fever among students.” He added that students and teachers have been cautioned on personal hygiene and sanitation.

An awareness meeting with seven health assistants (HA) from the Basic Health Units and three from the general hospital was also conducted yesterday. In the meeting, the HAs were alerted on ILI and were told to report to the dzongkhag immediately.

“We need to further improve our surveillance system and we’ll be more vigilant for similar outbreak elsewhere,” Tashi Dawa said.

Other schools and communities will also be alerted on such illnesses.

Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang