THE INDIAN Medical Association (IMA), Chandigarh chapter, on Friday issued an advisory on Nipah virus asking residents not to panic and take precautions. The IMA, however, has advised people to avoid travelling to Kerala.
Eleven deaths have been reported in Kerala due to outbreak of Nipah virus (NiV) infection. Other than Kerala, no case has been reported from any part of the country.
Dr Neeraj Kumar, president of IMA, Chandigarh, in a statement said that there was no need to panic as a lot of information, especially on the social media, is exaggerated and not factual. He said that residents should avoid travelling to Kerala.
“The initial presentation is non-specific, characterised by sudden onset of fever, headache, muscle pain, nausea and vomiting. Neck rigidity and photophobia can occur. The disease rapidly progresses, with deterioration in consciousness, leading to coma within five to seven days,” he said.
The Chandigarh health department on Friday also issued an advisory on Nipah virus and said that the department is taking all measures to tackle the disease.
A statement issued by the malaria wing of the health department on Friday stated symptoms, treatment and precautions needed to tackle the disease. The health department on Tuesday had sounded an alert in city hospitals, asking them to take precautionary measures.
As per the UT health department, Nipah virus (NiV) is an emerging zoonotic virus (a virus transmitted to humans from animals). “In infected people, Nipah virus causes a range of illnesses from asymptomatic (subclinical) infection to acute respiratory illness and fatal encephalitis. NiV can also cause severe disease in animals such as pigs, resulting in significant economic losses for farmers,” it said, adding that although Nipah virus has caused only a few outbreaks, it infects a wide range of animals and causes severe disease and death in people, making it a public health concern.
UT health officials say no sample has been sent for testing. A senior health official said that they have sent advisories to health personnel, hotel owners and also animal husbandry department.
According to health officials, infected people initially develop influenza-like symptoms of fever, headaches, myalgia (muscle pain), vomiting and sore throat. “This can be followed by dizziness, drowsiness, altered consciousness, and neurological signs that indicate acute encephalitis. Some people can also experience atypical pneumonia and severe respiratory problems, including acute respiratory distress,” the statement said.
About the treatment, it said that there are currently no drugs or vaccines specific for NiV infection and intensive supportive care is recommended to treat severe respiratory and neurologic complications.