Number of people affected by Nipah fever on the rise in Kerala
One must be aware of all aspects of the infection and take measures to avoid contracting the virus
NiV infection is a newly-emerging zoonosis (a disease which can be transmitted to humans from animals) that causes severe disease in both animals and humans. The natural host of the virus are fruit bats of the Pteropodidae Family, Pteropus genus.
Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr K K Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, "With the outbreak of this disease, we have yet another war to fight. The NiV jump the species barrier and infect a secondary animal host. Apart from avoiding direct contact with infected animals, it is also imperative to not consume fruits that have fallen on to the ground. What makes the situation tougher is that there is no vaccine or medicine for the disease. The only form of treatment is supportive medicines and palliative care. When the infection occurs in humans, it has a range of clinical presentations, from asymptomatic infection to acute respiratory syndrome and fatal encephalitis."
The incubation period for the virus ranges from 5 to 14 days after which the symptoms start becoming visible. The common symptoms include fever, head ache, fainting and nausea. In some cases, a person may experience choking, stomach pain, vomiting, fatigue and blurred vision.
Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor of IJCP, said, "Once the symptoms begin, there is an increased likelihood of the person going into a coma just two days after. There are also high chances of contracting encephalitis that affects the brain. The first line of defence is to avoid exposure and quarantining those who have already contracted the virus."
Some preventive measures from HCFI.
· Ensure that the food you eat is not contaminated by bats or their feces. Avoid consuming fruits bitten by bats.
· Avoid drinking toddy that is brewed in open containers near palm trees.
· Prevent contact with anyone who has contracted the disease. Sanitize and wash your hands thoroughly of you happen to visit someone with NiV.
· Clothes, utensils and items typically used in the toilet or bathroom, like buckets and mugs, should be cleaned separately and maintained hygienically.
· It is important to cover the face while transporting the dead body of anyone who dies after contracting Nipah fever. Refrain from hugging or kissing the dead person and take precautions while bathing the body before cremation or burial.
Dr K K Aggarwal