Bhutan takes precautionary measure after Encephalitis outbreak in North Bengal

After the recent outbreak of Encephalitis was reported in North Bengal and Assam killing at least 150 people, the Department of Public health (DoPH) has set precautionary measures for Bhutanese traveling in the border areas close to the place of the disease outbreak.

The Director General, DoPH, Dr Dorji Wangchuk said the Japanese Encephalitis (JE) is a disease spread by mosquitoes known as ‘Culex mosquito’ and it is a viral disease.

He said the virus get amplified when the mosquito bites other animals like pigs, or even birds, like a crane. The virus amplifies inside the blood stream of the animals and the concentration becomes more in the blood.

The disease is spread to human beings if the mosquito bites a person after feeding on the infected animals. The common symptoms are high fever, unconsciousness and then neck stiffness.

DoPH has already sent notifications to all the districts of south of Bhutan and in the border areas to keep watch over the people coming in from the affected areas of West Bengal and some parts of Assam.

“It has come up for the first time in the NDTV News, but we are looking at this scenario in the neighboring state and anyone in our border, they have been told on the signs and symptoms and how to go about,” Dr Dorji Wangchuk said. He also added that the Culex mosquito is present everywhere and it is also found within our country.

The department is cautioning the people travelling out and into the country of the disease and to be careful of mosquito bites. So far, there have been no cases of JE reported within the country.

Singapore, Japan and Europe. Several Scholarships, like the Trongsa Penlop Scholarship, have been offered by universities abroad to His Majesty as a gesture of goodwill Dr Dorji Wangchuk said that the department is considering getting the JE vaccines but that is costly and also not readily available. He said such preparation needs to be in place before the disease spreads to Bhutan. He said the earlier incident of the spread of Chikungunya happening suddenly in Samtse and Phuentsholing and Gomtu was a lesson learned. This year, there has been no outbreak Chikungunya or dengue in the country.

People who breed pigs are especially advised to be careful of mosquito bites. JE is a severe disease and it can be fatal. “If you get it, you could be killed because the mortality rate is very high and before we recognize it, sometimes it can be fatal. It is very dangerous because it is viral and so there are no medicines,” Dr Dorji Wangchuk said.

The hospitals can only give supportive treatment once a person has contracted JE. And if one does manage to recover from JE, it is said to be an incomplete cure, which is the reason why the disease is very dangerous.

There has been no confirmed case of JE in Bhutan so far. It is reported that a person is likely to contract the disease if a person visits a place where there is a history of outbreaks as the Culex mosquito that live and breed around those areas, especially in and around the hot belts will carry the virus.

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