Dengue outbreak in India rings alarm bells in NepalExperts say the dengue menace in India should be taken as a wake-up call and Nepal should start preparations accordingly.
Outbreaks of dengue virus in several states of India, including bordering Uttar Pradesh state, which has already witnessed at least 67 deaths, has sounded alarm bells in Nepal.
Monsoon is about to end and the post-monsoon period is considered an epidemic season for the dengue virus. Dengue cases have already been reported in various districts, health officials say.
“We are concerned by the outbreak of dengue infections and deaths in India,” Lila Bikram Thapa, a senior public health administrator at the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division, told the Post.
A suspected dengue outbreak in India’s Uttar Pradesh has killed at least 67 people, including more than 40 children, according to media reports.
The division said it has alerted health officials throughout the country, including those deployed in the international health desks set up at border crossings with India, about the possible outbreak of the dengue virus.
“We have also asked the hospitals to report to us [division] if an outbreak of the virus is reported in any place,” said Thapa. “The upcoming days will be challenging, as a decline in rainfall will provide breeding ground for the vectors that spread the dengue virus.”
Dengue is a mosquito-borne disease, which is transmitted by female Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes. The same vector also transmits chikungunya, yellow fever and Zika viruses.
In 2019, at least six people died and over 16,000 were hospitalised due to dengue outbreaks in 68 districts of Nepal.
“We have asked the health agencies concerned to make the surveillance system active and supply medicines to health facilities,” Dr Samir Kumar Adhikari, joint-spokesperson for the Health Ministry, told the Post. “There is every chance for an outbreak of dengue virus in the country as the vector [Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes] is present in many districts of Nepal.”
Health experts say an outbreak of dengue in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic could further strain the country’s healthcare system.
“The massive outbreak of the dengue virus in India should be taken as a wake-up call in Nepal, as we are highly vulnerable to such outbreaks,” said Dr Sher Bahadur Pun, chief of Clinical Research Unit at Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital, Kathmandu. “Sporadic cases have been reported from many districts, including in Kathmandu Valley.”
According to doctors, mild to high fever, severe muscle pain, rashes, severe headache, and pain in the eyes are some of the symptoms of dengue and treatment should be sought immediately. While there is no specific treatment for dengue, early detection and access to proper medical care can lower fatalities.