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Prevention is the only cure

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

There is no approved specific therapy for the Nipah virus, so take adequate precautions to ensure your safety

The Nipah virus was detected for the first time in Malaysia in 1998 and first reported in India in 2001. It was initially discovered when it caused an outbreak of brain fever among pig farmers in Malaysia. Recently Kerala has been on high alert due to 10 people being dead, two more infected and 40 quarantined because of an unidentified viral attack.

The Nipah virus is an airborne transmission infection and can affect those who come in direct contact with contaminated bodies. As per a WHO report, the estimated death rate is as high as 75%.

Dr Vikrant Shah, internal medicine expert, Zen Multispecialty Hospital says, “The Nipah virus is a newly emerging zoonosis that causes a severe disease in both animals and humans. It causes encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain. Sudden onset of fever, headache, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, neck rigidity and photophobia are signs of the Nipah virus. Within just one or two days the virus can cause coma and death. It is transmitted from person to person or through infected bats or pigs and there is no effective antiviral therapy for this infection.

“The diagnosis is currently done at National Institute of Virology, Pune. Supportive care is the mainstay of treatment and infected patients may require intensive care monitoring. There is no approved specific therapy for this infection. So prevention is the only cure,” adds Dr Shah.

Dr. Prakash  Jiandani,  Chief Intensivist, Wockhardt Hospital, Mumbai Central said, “The Nipah virus can cause fever, tiredness and also affect the brain. The virus has high mortality rate and there is no anti-viral medicine for this disease. This virus is comparatively new and rare. The incubation period of the Nipah virus is about five to 14 days. It is after this period of time that the symptoms become more visible. In some cases symptoms include stomach pain, choking, vomiting and blurred vision.”

“To avoid being infected, avoid drinking toddy brewed in open containers near palm trees. You must maintain a distance from the patient and sanitise and wash your hands properly. Clean your clothes, utensils and bathroom items like mugs and buckets separately. Ensure that they are all maintained hygienically,” Dr Jianandani concluded.

Precautions to be taken

Avoid contact with pigs and pig handlers.

Maintain personal hygiene and intensive hand-washing practices.

Avoid consuming raw fruits. Consume only well-cooked, clean, homemade food till the outbreak settles down.

Beware of the symptoms and report to the doctor immediately for early diagnosis and treatment.

Avoid mango, dates and banana if possible.

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