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Public urged not to panic over Nipah virus outbreak

The Ministry of Health has urged the general public not to panic over the ongoing Nipah virus outbreak in some parts of Kerala in India.

In a notification issued yesterday, the ministry states that it’s closely monitoring the situation and had urged the general public not to panic.

“We have mechanisms in place to prevent, to detect and to respond to such public health event,” states the notification.Further, the ministry has urged the general public to take the following precautions of practicing good hand hygiene at all times and to report immediately to the nearest health facility if one has a fever after travelling to the affected areas.

According to medical studies, fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are the natural host of Nipah virus (NiV) and the latter can cause a range of mild to severe disease in domestic animals such as pigs. The virus can be reportedly transmitted to humans from animals (bats, pigs), and can also be transmitted directly from human-to-human. Niv infection in humans can cause a range of clinical presentations, from asymptomatic infection to acute respiratory infection and fatal encephalitis.

Further, the infected people initially develop influenza-like symptoms of fever, headaches, myalgia (muscle pain), vomiting and sore throat, which could be followed by dizziness, drowsiness, altered consciousness, and neurological signs that indicate acute encephalitis. The case fatality rate is estimated at 40% to 75%.

Meanwhile, there are currently no drugs or vaccines specific for NiV infection. Supportive care is the primary treatment identified for humans as of now.

Staff Reporter from Thimphu