KATHMANDU, June 26: The Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) has decided to conduct surveillance of dengue and chikungunya virus, both mosquito-borne diseases, in Kathmandu from the first week of July. The viral diseases have similar symptoms and are transmitted to humans by Aedes-mosquitoes.
The District Public Health Office (DPHO), Kathmandu said Rs 200,000 has been allocated to carry-out the surveillance.
“We have requested entomologist Dr Sishir Panta to carryout surveillance in Kathmandu,” Mahendra Prasad Shrestha, chief of DPHO, Kathmandu said. A team of expert led by Dr Panta will arrive from Hetauda and will carry out a week-long study in various parts of Kathmandu.
The surveillance had been planned for an earlier date but had to be rescheduled due to delay in monsoon. The team will also carry out search and destroy program if the vectors´ concentration is found high during the surveillance. DPHO Chief Shrestha revealed that the World Health Organization (WHO) has also urged the government to carry out surveillance of the diseases in capital.
The Kathmandu DPHO said Aedes-Aegypti and Aedes-Albopicitus, which transmit dengue and chikungunya diseases respectively, were found in Kathmandu in the past. A study conducted by Epidemiology and Disease Control Division (EDCD) last year at Kalanki and Balaju, the areas that see high mobility of people from tarai districts, had found that the concentration of Aedes-Aegypti and Aedes-Albopictus mosquitoes had reached an alarming level in Kathmandu.
Purushottam Gautam, a medical entomologist, who carried out the study last year, said both types of mosquitoes were found in sufficient concentration to cause an outbreak in the capital. Dengue had claimed more than a dozen lives in tarai districts two years ago.
“The humidity and temperature levels of the capital, which have been rising gradually, are favorable for the growth of the vectors,” Gautam added.
The threat posed by Aedes mosquitoes is much greater compared to other mosquitoes. Unlike regular mosquitoes that breed in filthy waters, it grows even in clean water and bites during daytime. These mosquitoes can cause troubles in cities and urban areas as they breed in water collected in artificial containers such as plastic cups, used tires, broken bottles, flower pots and even drinking water tanks. They are also found near air coolers and refrigerators. Gautam said densely populated capital is vulnerable to dengue and chikungunya because of pollution and people´s compulsion to store water in their homes.
Dengue fever is mild like other normal fevers but a secondary infection is extremely dangerous as it can lead to dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF). DHF starts with severe headache, muscle and joint pains, fever and rash. The joint pains are so severe that the disease is nicknamed break-bone fever and it ultimately results in bleeding from joints all over the body.
Chikungunya virus causes illness similar to dengue fever. The phase of very high fever, lasting two to five days, is followed by prolonged joint pains.