Understanding Nipah virus & public health outcome

May 29, 2018, 07:17
Understanding Nipah virus & public health outcome

Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja on Wednesday said that the outbreak of Nipah virus (NiV), which has claimed 10 lives, has been contained and there was no need to panic.

While officials of the Health department, Animal Husbandry Department and the Forest Department arrived at Burma Papadi School and have taken samples from the dead bats for investigation, they have assured the people that there is no danger of Nipah virus spreading in the area. The virus has an incubation period of between 5 and 14 days after which the person starts to exhibit symptoms of infection.

The virus can cause flu-like symptoms and brain damage, and the outbreak has already killed 10 people in southern India, with at least nine more being treated, officials said.

Authorities have issued a travel advisory for half a dozen districts in Kerala and alerts in neighbouring states to try to curb the spread of the deadly virus.

Speaking to media, an official from Ministry of Health and Family Welfare reportedly said, that a central health team has been directed to constantly review the situation in the wake of deaths due to the deadly Nipah virus in Kerala. He said the dead bats have been sent to the National Institute of Virology (NIV) for investigation.

Nipah can be spread by fruit bats, pigs and through human-to-human contact. The outbreak of the disease was first reported in Kampung Sungai Nipah, Malaysia in 1998. Fruit bats are the natural host of the virus belonging to Pteropodidae family.

Human-to-human transmission has also been documented. Some infected people may be aymptomatic, some may develop severe respiratory distress and few may have severe infection of the brain (fatal encephalitis). "We have directed the CDHOs to remain observant regarding Nipah virus (outbreak) which is so far limited only to two districts of Kerala", Dahiya said.

There is no vaccine for the virus yet, says the World Health Organisation (WHO).

"I think I am nearly on my way", Lini Puthusheri wrote to her husband in a mix of English and Malayalam, the main language in Kerala, a southern state in India. Primary treatment options include intensive care support with ventilator and BP support with standard infection control practice.

The virus can be transferred through infected bats, pigs or humans who have been infected.