Medical: Despite heavy rain and floods inundating properties and settlements in places like Gelephu, Sarpang and Phuentsholing, no reports of communicable diseases have been recorded by health facilities, according to health officials from these areas.

However, health officials warned that the risk of water- and vector-borne diseases has increased. Therefore, the public especially in the affected areas must remain more cautious after the rain and flood subside since the risks of spreading communicable diseases is higher then, according to the official.

Water borne diseases such as typhoid, cholera and hepatitis A are caused by contamination in drinking water while vector borne diseases like malaria and dengue fever are caused by increase in vector habitats such as stagnant water and garbage.

The affected areas are safe from communicable diseases at least for now. “While there has been no report of any water borne or vector borne diseases in Sarpang, control measures are also being taken,” Sarpang assistant dzongkhag health officer, Melam Dorji said.

The temporary shelter at Butaybari has been arranged with proper and separate toilets for men and women. “While the dzongkhag has been monitoring the sanitation in the relief camp, mosquito nets were also distributed to the affected houses,” Melam Dorji said.

The dzongkhag has also instructed its village health workers to sensitise villagers on control measures. “The village health workers have been instructed to report to the dzongkhag health forum on the mobile application WeChat, should they come across any one suffering from communicable diseases,” Melam Dorji said.

No reports of any case of water and vector borne diseases have been reported in the central regional referral hospital in Gelephu. The hospital’s deputy chief medical record officer Palden Lepcha said that at least for now, none of the doctors dealing with patients daily have reported any case of communicable diseases.

“Our doctors have not reported coming across any case of water or vector borne diseases,” Palden Lepcha said.

The central referral hospital medical superintendent, Dr Tapas Gurung, also said that no cases have been detected yet in Gelephu.

No cases were also reported in Phuentsoling, another area battered by rain and floods.

Palden Lepcha said that there has been no report of water or vector borne diseases in Gelephu despite the water treatment plant being damaged and also because people have been drinking rainwater, which he said is safe for consumption. “But even if it is rainwater it is safer to boil just in case it is contaminated,” Palden Lepcha said.

Tips to combat water and vector borne diseases

Drink boiled or filtered or chlorine treated water

Use soap to wash hands

Wash fruits and vegetables properly with clean water before consuming

Use mosquito nets/repellent

Wear long sleeve clothes to prevent mosquito bites

Drain stagnant water in the surroundings and keep surroundings clean

The hospital also warned people that they should be more careful when the rain abates and floodwaters recede. “Because more than during the flood it is after the rain and flood that there are higher risks of spreading these diseases,” Dr Tapas Gurung said.

The medical superintendent said that while some cases of water or vector borne diseases are expected after the rain and flood, there will not be an outbreak.

Health officials are advising people to boil drinking water, to wash their hands with soap and use mosquito nets and repellent. To further reinforce control measures, Melam Dorji said his dzongkhag will also be conducting drinking water tests as soon as the rainfall stops to prevent water and vector borne diseases.

Tempa Wangdi