Ker­ala health depart­ment is­sues Ni­pah alert

The Gulf Today - - ASIA - BY AM ABDUSSALAM

KOZHIKODE: Af­ter the Ni­pah scare that claimed 18 conirmed lives this year, the health and fam­ily wel­fare depart­ment in the state on Thurs­day is­sued an alert against the deadly virus, source of which is still un­known.

Ad­di­tional chief sec­re­tary Ra­jeev Sadanan­dan di­rected med­i­cal col­leges, district hospi­tals and taluk hospi­tals to adopt pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sures while deal­ing with pa­tients suf­fer­ing from Acute Re­s­pi­ra­tory Dis­tress Syn­drome (ARDS).

“The trans­mis­sion of Ni­pah virus tra­di­tion­ally starts around De­cem­ber and lasts till June. There­fore, it is im­por­tant to alert the pub­lic not to eat fruits bit­ten by bats. They should con­sume fruits and veg­eta­bles only af­ter prop­erly wash­ing them,” the di­rec­tive said.

Pa­tients with cough are to be di­rected to re­port to a cough cor­ner, adding masks should be made avail­able there. “Any­one with cough should be di­rected to cover their mouth with a towel when­ever they travel out­side and also when they are in­ter­act­ing with fam­ily mem­bers in the house,” the di­rec­tive fur­ther stated.

The Ni­pah virus had claimed 18 lives in the district ear­lier this year, ac­cord­ing to the Ker­ala gov­ern­ment sta­tis­tics. Two pa­tients were saved af­ter quar­an­tine treat­ment. How­ever, ac­cord­ing to some in­ter­na­tional jour­nals, there were 23 sus­pected cases and 21 died.

Min­is­ter for Health KK Shy­laja dis­missed the claim say­ing that only 18 deaths were conirmed to be caused by Ni­pah and the cause of three other deaths were yet to be as­cer­tained.

Ac­cord­ing to health re­searchers, the virus was irst iden­tiied in Kam­pung Sun­gai Ni­pah (hence the name) area of Malaysia in 1998 when a brain fever epi­demic broke out.

The in­fec­tion was re­ported in Bangladesh in 2001 af­ter it spread to hu­mans who con­sumed date palm sap con­tam­i­nated by in­fected fruit bats.

The virus can also pass on to hu­mans from fruits that have been touched by bats. It could spread from in­fected peo­ple to oth­ers.

Ac­cord­ing to World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WHO), hu­man-to-hu­man trans­mis­sion has also been doc­u­mented, in­clud­ing at a hos­pi­tal in In­dia. Vac­cine has not been de­vel­oped yet to pre­vent the in­fec­tion.

The in­fec­tion is as­so­ci­ated with en­cephali­tis (in­lam­ma­tion of the brain). The dis­ease be­gins with breath­ing di­fi­culty, ter­ri­ble headache and fever and pro­gresses to brain fever. Death rate among in­fected peo­ple is 74.5 per cent.

The in­fec­tion in hu­mans has a range of clin­i­cal pre­sen­ta­tions, from asymp­to­matic in­fec­tion to acute re­s­pi­ra­tory syn­drome and fa­tal en­cephali­tis, says WHO. The pri­mary treat­ment for hu­man cases is in­ten­sive sup­port­ive care.

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