Why should you be worried of Nipah?

Chennai: If it is monsoon season, dengue begins to show its ugly head; during summer, since previous year, incidences of Nipah have created fear among people.

Following the diagnosis of a college student with the virus in Kerala, Tamilnadu and Karnataka government officials are on high alert to ensure the fever does not spread. Apart from the patient, 314 people in touch with the students are also being monitored.

Sitting in Chennai, you may ask why you should be bothered about something that happened in neighbouring State. But you should be at least aware of the symptoms, for many, official travel cannot be avoided. It may not be the case that the virus is found here, but carrying the infection can be more if one shuttles often between the infected place to home city.

First things first: What is Nipah? According to WHO, the Nipah virus infection is a newly emerging zoonosis, that is, a disease transmitted from animals to humans. Fruit bats, also called as flying foxes are natural carriers of the organism and is present in its urine, fecal matter, saliva and birthing fluids. The virus belongs to a new genus termed Henipavirus (subfamily Paramyxovirinae).

The symptoms of Nipah are similar to that of influenza: fever, muscle pain and respiratory problems. Inflammation of the brain can also cause disorientation. Late onset of Encephalitis can also occur. Sometimes a person can have an asymptomatic infection, and be a carrier of Nipah and not show any symptoms.

A 24-hour control room is functioning in Directorate of Public Health and Preventive Medicine to monitor the situation based on the news from all the channels, an official said, adding that over 2,500 hospitals have been requested to ensure standard infection control practices.

How to prevent?
Doctors from the State Public Health department suggest to refrain from consuming fruits or vegetables bitten by bats or birds. “Fruits and vegetables must be washed well before eating, hygiene should be maintained and particularly, washing hands when required,” said a doctor.
Exposure to sick pigs should also be avoided and people are advised to seek medical intervention for early detection and offering treatment.


Bhavani Prabhakar