On 11 September 2018, HealthMap noted a news- media report of a mystery disease in Kanchanrup Municipality of Saptari in Nepal. The original report specified 3 deaths and 400 affected, presenting with high fever, cough, joint pain, headache, and muscle cramps within the last 15 days of the report. More information on the source of illness, other symptoms, confirmation of case count, and disease identification were sought through the EpiCore system’s Request for Information (RFI). HealthMap is a partner organization of EpiCore, a virtual community of health professionals using innovative surveillance methods to verify outbreaks of infectious diseases. When information on possible, rumored, or yet-to-be-confirmed outbreaks is brought into the HealthMap surveillance system, our data analysts have the option of sending an RFI, requesting more information from EpiCore members on the ground, and therefore speeding the time to outbreak detection and confirmation.
A response to the Epicore RFI was received on 12 September 2018. The response confirmed the initial news- media report of 3 deaths and more than 400 affected. The response further indicated that samples were collected by a team at the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division (EDCD). The EDCD suspected the illness to be Scrub Typhus or Influenza. A second response to the RFI was received on 13 September 2018, which further verified the outbreak via national daily newspapers. A third response further confirmed the EDCD’s suspicion of an influenza outbreak. The response indicated that swine flu (H1N1) and Hong Kong flu (H3N2) had been reported. Additional reports indicated 10 reports of Hong Kong flu and a report of swine flu from 24 samples sent to Kathmandu. As of 15 September 2018, the number of deaths total from the outbreak had risen to 5. Case management, prevention awareness, and treatment are ongoing. The Kanchanrup Municipality has declared the area a ‘disaster- hit’ zone and has also encouraged all to “remain alert and conscious” with regard to the outbreak of these diseases.
This public health event was confirmed, thanks to contributions by EpiCore members and simultaneously confirmed via news-media reports. The HealthMap team will continue to post about public health events that have been verified via the EpiCore platform, so please follow along here on Disease Daily.