- First outbreak of the Nipah virus among humans was reported from Malaysia
- Wash hands with soap and water regularly to avoid transmission of Nipah
- To avoid the Nipah virus, fruits should be eaten only after proper cleaning
New Delhi: Over three years after it first ravaged Kozhikode and Malappuram districts of Kerala, a case of the contagious Nipah virus was reported again in the state on September 5. The state, which is seeing a huge surge in COVID-19 cases accounting for 60 per cent of all new cases in the country has been put on high alert after the death of a 12-year-old boy in Kozhikode district. Testing is going on for more samples, in a bid to contain the spread of the deadly virus. According to Kerala Health Minister Veena George, even though all samples of the boy’s contacts sent to the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune so far have tested negative for Nipah Virus, the state has stepped up its measures and started field surveillance.
Earlier in May 2018, during the first Nipah virus (NiV) disease outbreak in the Kozhikode district of Kerala, the state had witnessed 17 deaths and 19 confirmed cases. Over 2,000 people in Kozhikode and Malappuram districts were quarantined and kept under observation during the period of the outbreak which was officially declared over on June 10, 2018. A single case had been reported in Ernakulam district of Kerala in 2019, but there was no fatality. Apart from Kerala, Nipah was also detected in Siliguri and Nadia districts of West Bengal in 2001 and 2007 respectively causing around 50 deaths.
As the threat of the Nipah virus re-emerges in Kerala here are 10 things to know about it:
- According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Nipah virus is a ‘zoonotic’ virus, that is, it is transmitted to human beings from animals. The virus can also be transmitted through contaminated food, or directly between people. WHO says that the natural host of Nipah virus are Fruit Bats or Flying Foxes.
- The first outbreaks of the Nipah virus among humans were was reported from Malaysia (1998) and Singapore (1999). Since it was first identified in 1998-99, there have been multiple outbreaks of the Nipah virus, all of them in South and Southeast Asian nations.
- Generally, it affects animals like pigs, dogs and horses, among others. If it spreads among humans, the Nipah virus can cause serious illness which may result in death. To avoid the Nipah virus, fruits should be consumed only after washing those properly. Half-eaten fruits lying on the ground must be avoided.
- Following are the symptoms of the Nipah Virus infection, according to WHO:
• Sore Throat
• Muscle pain
• Difficulty in Breathing
Severe symptoms may follow, such as:
• Disorientation, drowsiness, or confusion
• Brain Swelling (encephalitis)
- The incubation period of the Nipah virus is 5-14 days on average. But in some extreme cases, it can go up to 45 days, which means there is a lot of time for an infected person to unknowingly infect others.
- The main tests used to diagnose the Nipah virus are Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) from bodily fluids and antibody detection via Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA). Other tests used include PCR and virus isolation by cell culture.
- The Nipah virus can spread among humans if they establish close contact with Nipah-infected people, bats or pigs. Hence, paramedical staff and close relatives of infected people are at risk. Bodies of people who HAVE died due to the Nipah virus can also spread the virus and so the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) advises that handling of the bodies be done strictly in accordance with the government advisory.
- The fatality rate is estimated at 40 per cent to 75 per cent and this rate can vary, according to WHO. This rate can vary by outbreak depending on local capabilities for epidemiological surveillance and clinical management, added WHO.
- In order to minimise and avoid transmission of Nipah virus, one should wash hands with soap and water regularly and especially after coming in contact with a potentially infected person or animal.
- According to the World Health Organisation, currently, there are no licensed drugs for the treatment of the Nipah virus or a vaccine against it. According to Gavi (formerly the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation), The Vaccine Alliance, a Phase 1 clinical study of a Nipah virus vaccine candidate (HeV-sG-V) started in February 2020 and is expected to be completed in September 2021. WHO recommends intensive supportive care for the treatment of severe respiratory and neurologic complications borne out of Nipah infection.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.
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