Phuentsholing reports its first case of dengue fever

Ministry of Health warns residents of Nairobi fly infection

Rajesh Rai and Nima Wangdi

The town of Phuentsholing reported its first dengue fever case of the year on July 6 after a 47-year-old man tested positive.

Although the man has recovered, many said it could just be the start of a dengue fever outbreak in the nearby town.

Given the monsoon season with periodic rains and heat, locals fear an outbreak is possible.

A Phuentsholing hospital official said they have not yet received many fever cases.

“But the risk is high.”

Meanwhile, health officials conducted a vector survey for dengue mosquitoes and destroyed all indoor breeding grounds.

Fogging was also carried out in the index building.

Investigation teams have been continuously deployed to the field to ensure that there are no residual cases and vectors.

In 2019, Phuentsholing recorded the highest number of positive dengue fever cases.

The epidemic that started on July 5, 2019 continued until November. By mid-November, Phuentsholing had recorded 4,300 positive dengue fever cases. Eight people have died, including two maternal deaths from dengue fever.

According to health officials, it is necessary to strengthen community participation in clean-up campaigns to destroy breeding sites and keep the surroundings clean.

People are also advised to destroy outdoor breeding sites, including tires. Indoor water collections like refrigerators, flower pots, and containers are also potential breeding sites.

Health officials are advising people to wear long sleeves and use mosquito nets at home.

Nairobi Flies Update

Phuentsholing Hospital reported a total of 278 cases of infection with beetle dermatitis (Nairobi flies).

The first case was reported on June 27.

This week, the hospital saw a drastic drop in the number of cases. Only two to three cases have been reported.

With more than 315 cases of Nairobi fly infections reported in the country so far, the Ministry of Health has warned the public. Health centers registered cases as people came for treatment.

According to the current situation, people in Phuentsholing and Samtse have been infected. The ministry’s notice is primarily aimed at residents living along the southern zones.

People are advised to wear long-sleeved clothes and pants, close windows, use mosquito nets, dim lights, avoid going out at night, and keep homes clean.

Cases of Nairobi fly infection have also been reported in many districts of North Bengal including Darjeeling and neighboring Sikkim in India. Hundreds of students in Sikkim are said to have been infected.

There is no history of Nairobi flies seen in Bhutan. Health Ministry officials were not available to confirm this.

What is the Nairobi fly and its infection?

Nairobi flies are native to East Africa and are known as Kenyan flies or dragon bugs. The small beetle-like insects are orange and black and are usually found in areas with high rainfall.

Bright lights and wet areas attract them. They usually destroy crops and eat pests. According to sources, Nairobi flies do not bite or sting. However, if disturbed while sitting on someone’s body, they release a powerful acidic substance that causes burns. The toxin responsible for these burns is called pederin.

Pederin is produced by symbiotic bacteria that live inside Nairobi flies. The liquid released by these insects can cause burns, dermatitis or unusual lesions on the skin. Pinhead-sized blisters could burst in 24 to 48 hours filled with a yellowish liquid. But these usually dry up and leave no scars.

Internet sources said more serious cases could occur if the toxin is more widespread in the body and can cause fever, nerve pain, joint pain or vomiting. “If the toxins come into contact with a person’s eyes, it can cause conjunctivitis and potentially temporary blindness.”

Nairobi Fly Infection Treatment

The Department of Health advises people to immediately wash the affected area and apply wet, cold compresses. “Severe cases are treated with antibiotics, steroids and antihistamines.”

The fly should be blown gently if found sitting on the body. The fly sensing any threat would lead to the release of the powerful acidic substance.

International health experts say there is nothing to panic about since the infection can be easily treated.

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