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Chikungunya Virus Infection in Bhutan

03 Aug 2012

A suspected outbreak of chikungunya virus infection has been reported from Phuentsholing and Samtse, two areas of Bhutan close to the border with West Bengal in India.

Seventeen samples from suspected cases were sent to the public health laboratory last week; 9 from Phuentsholing and 8 from Samtse.
On Monday 30 Jul 2012, one of the first 3 samples received by the laboratory tested positive for chikungunya virus, making it the first case of the infection in the country. The laboratory has found 7 samples negative for chikungunya virus. To further confirm the existence of any other viruses, all 17 samples have been sent to the Armed Force Research Institute for Medical Science in Bangkok.

The fluctuations in the city's weather over the past few weeks and the unpredictable rainfall during the onset of monsoon have led to an increase in flu-like infections in Bhutan. Health officials predict that if the weather continues this way, infections are likely to increase.

Advice for Travellers

Avoidance of mosquito bites by covering up with clothing and the use of bite avoidance measures such as repellent and bed nets is advised. Elimination of breeding sites around hotel rooms/houses is advised for longer term stays.