With four cases clinically confirmed in Samtse and seven likely cases in Gomtu it looks like Bhutan is braced for an outbreak of an altogether new-kind.
The four cases were reported to Samtse hospital on 17 July symptomatic of the Chikungunya disease.
Chikungunya meaning ‘mosquito-borne disease,’ is a rare form of viral infection caused by an Alpha virus that is spread through mosquito bites.
Symptoms of Chikungunya includes fever, debilitating arthralgia (joint pain), swelling of joints, stiffness of joints, myalgia (muscular pain), headache, fatigue (weakness), nausea, vomiting and rash.
Normal symptoms persist up to three days and two weeks in few cases whereas joints of extremities becomes swollen and painful to touch because of which the disease has been classified among the Arthritic Viruses.
A Health official in Samtse hospital said after the recent Chikungunya outbreak in Birpara of Jalpaiguri district in India and suspicions reigned about it to be the same case, with similar symptoms, patients were kept under observation,
However one of the patients was discharged a few days back.
The main cause of the disease was improper storage of water since the area has a water problem, said one of the health team of Vector-borne Disease Control Program (VDCP) of Gelephu.
All necessary sensitization measures were carried out by the health team as they visited each households, necessary cleanings were carried out and sensitization messages were also broadcast through the local TV channel and a larval survey was conducted.
‘Thermal fogging’ was also carried out as part of the measures. Thermal Fogging is device that uses heat of high temperature and produces fog which helps stop transmission of infected adult mosquitoes and the larval stage which is observed between seven to 10 days.
“Another round of fogging has to be done in order to stop transmission,” said the health official.
In absence of a test kit in the country, samples have been sent to Bangkok a week ago for further confirmation.
History says, the name of the disease is derived from the word ‘Swahali,’ a language spoken in East Africa which means ‘that which bends up,’ reflecting the physique of a person suffering from the disease.
Over 1000 people were affected following the outbreak of Chikungunya in three blocks of Jalpaiguri district in West Bengal, India in the past two months.
The virus has caused several epidemics in Asia, including Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Burma and Sri Lanka.
The massive outbreak in India in the year 2006 was reported in different parts of India affecting huge numbers of people.
Though Chikungunya is not considered to be fatal, deaths have been reported, directly or indirectly.
The elderly takes a longer period to recover from the disease and severity of the disease as well as its duration is less in younger patients and pregnant women.
The disease has no specific anti-viral treatment or vaccine available but separate treatments are given based on symptoms.
Use of mosquito repellent, wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants, getting rid of mosquito breeding sites and staying indoors or under mosquito nets are recommended by the health officials.
Chikungunya virus is said to be highly infective and disabling and possibly a person can have Chikungunya and dengue fever together at the same time since the infected Aedes mosquito can carry both the viruses.