Fifteen students of Damphu Central School in Tsirang tested positive for influenza A as of 4:30PM yesterday.

This comes after more than 60 students fell sick and showed signs of influenza-like illness (ILI) since September 16. The students complained of headache, high fever and body ache accompanied by joint pain. Few students suffered from diarrhoea and vomiting and some reported mild fever.

All sick students are boarder and they are isolated from the rest of the students in a newly constructed dining hall, away from the hostel.

One of the students, Pema Dechen, said she has a fever, which worsens towards the evening and has joint pain. She is also suffering from diarrhoea and vomiting.

“I feel weak and don’t feel like eating.”

Another student, Pema Dorji Tamang, also complained of headache and fever. He suffered the symptoms since Sunday morning.

The first case was reported around 5PM on September 16. On conducting a rapid flu test, two students tested positive among the 15 who visited the hospital that evening. While the students were soon discharged with symptomatic management, health officials advised the school authority to immediately isolate other students.

When the number of students kept multiplying 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.

The team diagnosed 124 students with ILI. Among them 90 were boys. Of the 124 cases, rapid flu testing was conducted on 7 samples and found six positive for influenza A.

However, only 53 students with severe ILI required isolation, health officials said.

Dzongkhag health Officer, Tashi Dawa, said that with timely surveillance and monitoring the number of new cases has been reduced. On the third day, eight new cases were reported yesterday.

He said that they advised other students on personal hygiene and cough restrain. “They need not panic.”

This is the third influenza outbreak in Tsirang. About a month ago, more than 100 students suffered ILI in Mendrelgang Central School. However, within two days of proper monitoring and isolation, it was prevented from spreading.

Last week more than 25 students of Tsholingkhar Primary School reported of similar illness.

Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang