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Nipah virus: Samples of fruit-eating bats to be sent for testing

Nipah virus: Samples of fruit-eating bats to be sent for testing

The notification urged people not to panic, as there are mechanisms in place to prevent, detect and to respond to such public health event.

The most recent viral outbreak that has everyone on edge is caused by Nipah virus, labelled zoonotic (transmitted to humans through animals). So we are not sure whether many deaths due to encephalitis in the past were due to Nipah virus. The area inspector has been designated as the health inspector. "After receiving the information, we do a risk assessment at the Royal Centre for Disease Control and make recommendations immediately".

The natural host of the virus is believed to be fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family, Pteropus genus. Adequate precautionary measures include total isolation of infected persons and personal protection of those in close contact with the infected persons.

According to an official, the droppings, urine and secretions of the bats would also be sent for testing. People were also advised to avoid pork as pigs are also suspected to be carriers of the virus.

Worldwide efforts to develop a vaccine are underway following the Nipah virus outbreak in southern India earlier this week.

According to the advisory issued by the director of Health Services the symptoms involves initial presentation is non-specific, characterised by the sudden onset of fever, headache, muscle pain, nausea and vomiting. Patients will experience mild to severe acute respiratory infection. Encephalitis and seizures occur in severe cases, progressing to coma within 24 to 48 hours. However, the incubation period is between 4 and 14 days from contracting the disease to the onset of symptoms.

There is no vaccine for either humans or animals infected by the Nipah virus, which is an airborne infection that can affect persons, who come in direct contact with infected animals or humans. The authorities are conducting awareness campaigns and are also screening people at airport, railway and bus stations. "They should also avoid close contacts with people around unless it is ruled out that they are not infected with the virus". Currently, there is no known treatment against the virus, which proved fatal in 70% of recorded cases. "The disease is treated with supportive and symptomatic care which is the mainstay of the treatment", maintains the advisory.

The Collector said that the advisory has been issued by the hospitals to their staff and a press release has been given to them. At this time, there are no recommended actions for airlines'. The virus is named for the place it was first isolated and identified - in Sungai Nipah, Malaysia, where a bunch of pig farmers contracted the disease almost 20 years ago.

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