Health department issues advisory against Nipah virus
GUWAHATI: Health officials in Guwahati have given out advisory to take precautions against the deadly Nipah virus which killed 13 people in a recent outbreak in Kerala.
Talking to G Plus Ganesh Saikia, joint director of health services of Kamrup (Metro) district, said that they have appealed to the people not to panic and maintain calm.
“We have issued instructions telling people not to consume fruits which have been bitten by bats,” said Saikia adding however that they have not yet imposed any restrictions on people for visiting Kerala.
Officials added that there have been no suspected virus cases in the state till now and that Assam is not under any direct threat since the fruits, barring only coconut, are usually not imported here from Kerala.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) describes Nipah virus (NiV) as, “a newly emerging zoonosis that causes severe disease in both animals and humans. The natural host of the virus are fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family, Pteropus genus.”
The first outbreak of the disease was reported from Malaysia in 1998. Some of the symptoms of the disease include fever, headache, disorientation, drowsiness, mental confusion apart from acute respiratory syndrome and fatal encephalitis.
Experts say that since the symptoms are similar to other diseases, it becomes difficult to initially diagnose it. The disease is thought to be transmitted by animals such as bats and pigs among others.
Further, there is no vaccination available at present for Nipah virus for humans as well as animals - which makes it a deadly disease.
Jyotish Das, an official at the directorate of food, civil supplies and consumer affairs informed that the litchi - which is touted as one of the most vulnerable fruits for transmission of Nipah virus - comes to Guwahati from Bangladesh.
Officials also said that they have not imposed any restrictions on the sale of litchi in Guwahati till now.
The authorities added that mangoes are brought in from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar while the apples are sourced from Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh.
“The symptoms shown in case of acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) are similar to symptoms found in cases of Japanese encephalitis as well as Nipah virus. So far, here we have seen cases of Japanese encephalitis but none of Nipah virus,” said Saikia.
On the other hand, deputy commissioner of Kamrup (Metro), Virendra Mittal, told G Plus that the health department has been given the responsibility to take the needed precautions and to communicate it across to reach people.
“All necessary precautionary measures are being taken and the health officials have been made in charge to percolate the advisory down till the health sub-centre level across the district,” said Saikia.
Meghalaya Nipah scare turns out to be fake
Recently, the news of Nipah virus cases being detected in Meghalaya was being circulated on WhatsApp. This, however, turned out to be false information with officials condemning the act.
The WhatsApp message, which is believed to have been circulated widely, mentioned that several people had fallen ill after eating litchi. The message mentioned cases being detected in Williamnagar in East Garo Hill district of the state.
Officials of the Meghalaya government have taken serious note of the matter and believe that the news was being spread to create a sense of panic among the general public.
Saidul Khan, media advisor to the chief minister of Meghalaya, confirmed that the news was completely untrue. He added that the health officials have condemned the work of a few miscreants who seem to be spreading this fake news.
“Officials in the state health department have confirmed that the message being circulated among people regarding Nipah virus is false and was passed around to create panic,” he said.
Further, Meghalaya officials have added that no suspected cases of the virus have been detected in the state but they have begun taking precautions and have alerted the health personnel.
Calling it a case of cyber crime, the Meghalaya health authorities have also demanded strict punishment for the culprits behind the act.
Authorities said that given the proximity of Assam to Meghalaya, the fake news of the virus could have created a sense of fear and panic among people in Assam too.
• Health officials issue advisory against deadly Nipah virus
• Authorities have appealed to people not to panic
• They said no case of the virus has been reported in Assam till now
• However, officials have asked people not to eat fruits bitten by bats - seen as
Carriers of the virus:
• In a recent outbreak in Kerala, the virus claimed lives of 13 people
• Meghalaya Nipah virus scare turned out to be false
• Authorities claimed no suspected case of the virus being reported till now