As a precautionary measure to the rare Nipah Virus infection that claimed 12 lives in Kerala in the past few days, governments of Bihar and Sikkim on Saturday issued advisories urging people to take precaution against the virus. It also asked them to monitor fever cases if anybody has a history of travel to the affected areas, for instance, to Kerala recently.
The Sikkim health department in its statement said, “Though there is minimal possibility of Nipah virus in Sikkim, but the people need to take precaution.” It advised people not to eat fruits and vegetables bitten by birds, bats and animals, wash their hands properly after contacting infected person and monitor fever cases with history of travel to the affected areas i.e. Kerala.
The symptoms of the virus include fever, headache, vomiting and fainting. Some may show symptoms of epilepsy. The symptoms may last 10-12 days followed by unconsciousness and death as a result of brain fever, the advisory said.
While, terming the virus as ‘very dangerous’, the Nitish Kumar-led government in Bihar said it is very important to take precaution against it in the state as well. The advisory said that Nipah virus is contagious and can infect people coming in contact of the already infected ones, even through physical touch.
The virus affects the brain as well, which maybe be the reason for swelling in the brain of a person. Infection due to Nipah is a zoonotic disease that spreads from infected fruit, bats to animals, animals to animals or bats to human beings. It spreads to human beings who would eat things sucked or bitten by bats. The advisory also warned people against coming in contact by any means with pigs.
The treatment for Nipah virus – in which people can go in come within 24-48 hours – is done through ELISA in Pune, the Bihar government advisory said.
Besides, many other states including Puducherry, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Chandigarh also issued advisories to public on Nipah virus with many states putting all hospitals in the respective states on high alert.
Meanwhile, the UAE has asked its citizens to put off unnecessary travel to Kerala. Asserting that it was closely monitoring the situation, the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention (Mohap) in a statement said, “The ministry works with its strategic partners to assess the risk of importation of Nipah virus (NiV) cases to the country and put the necessary control measures. Also, Mohap is in continuous coordination with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to implement the global recommendations.”
“Mohap alerts the people travelling to Kerala to be aware of possibly of contracting the infection and advises them to postpone unnecessary travel till the situation will be controlled,” read the statement.
“Emirates is aware of recent Nipah cases reported in the state of Kerala, India. The safety of our passengers and crew will always be our top priority, and we are monitoring the situation closely. With regards to preventive or other measures, we will take guidance from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other international bodies. At this time, there are no recommended actions for airlines,” it said.
Kerala Health Minister KK Shaylaja had said 2,000 Ribavirin tablets, anti-viral medicines, have been brought from Malaysia for treatment of patients with symptoms of Nipah virus infection. Centre has also sent a multi-agency team to probe the incident.