Though no dengue fever cases have been reported in Nepal this year, its symptoms found in six patients visiting the Nepalgunj Medical College and Kohalpur Medical College cannot be dismissed lightly. Since dengue fever has already claimed 51 lives in India and fresh cases are surfacing almost daily there, including in areas close to the border, any neglect on the part of the Ministry of Health can prove costly. The Epidemiology and Disease Control Division that is starting a surveillance system in the risk-prone districts of Morang, Parsa, Chitwan and Nepalgunj will have to maintain a close watch over sections that frequently cross the border.

Ades Agepti mosquito transmits this disease and the spraying of pesticides alone offers no lasting solution. The country’s only dengue testing machine at the Vector Borne Disease Research and Training Centre in Hetauda must be repaired soon and rapid diagnostic test facilities made available, at least, in government hospitals. Physicians, as a matter of routine, should be well equipped to deal with any eventuality. Training them at the eleventh hour to treat Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever, for instance, can only be an unhealthy trend. More important is an awareness campaign on proper sanitation, such as stressing the need to avoid breeding grounds for mosquitoes. The low level of public awareness and poverty make the task of preparing against any attack of the disease more challenging. But the urgency of adopting adequate preventive and curative measures to fend off dengue, in case it visits Nepal, cannot be overlooked.