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Nipah virus scare: Delhi govt asks people to be careful while consuming fruits, issues advisory
The deadly Nipah virus has taken about 17 lives in Kerala, including one person who died on Friday, since the first case was reported on May 19.
Nipah virus scare: Delhi govt asks people to be careful while consuming fruits, issues advisory

The deadly Nipah virus has taken about 17 lives in Kerala, including one person who died on Friday, since the first case was reported on May 19. The virus has reportedly spread in two-three districts of Kerala but states across India are keeping a close watch on its infection. The Delhi government, meanwhile, has issued an advisory of the people of the national capital to avoid consuming 'raw date palm sap' and take extra precaution while having mangoes that fall off from trees as they might be infected by fruit bats.

Also, people have been asked not to consume partially-eaten fruits or those eaten by any animal or those having bite marks (by fruit bats) of any kind. There's no vaccine for the deadly virus, which gets transferred from animals to humans. Basic symptoms of the Nipah virus are brain fever, nausea, vomiting, convulsions, choking, stomach pain, and fatigue. A person infected with the Nipah Virus can also go in coma.

The advisory, meanwhile, says people don't need to be scared -- as it has only a local occurrence in two Kerala districts only -- but asked people to be cautious while consuming these fruits.

"It's is a zoonotic disease (spreads from animals to humans) and its transmission can happen through infected bats by their bite or indirectly by consuming fruits like mangoes or date palm sap contaminated by their saliva, close contact with infected pigs or patients of Nipah virus infection," the Delhi government said.

The government has not issued a travel advisory but asked people to avoid unnecessary travel to the virus-infected areas of Kerala for time being.

The first three cases of the Nipah virus were reported from a family in Kozhikode, Kerala, where the outbreak was identified after three members of a family were tested positive for the virus. The state animal husbandry department captured the bats from a well at the compound of the house of the victims but the authorities found no virus in them, meaning the source of the Nipah virus came from somewhere else. Since the natural hosts of the Nipah virus are fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family, Pteropus genus, the government is trying to track down the infected virus to stop its spread, but the delay has caused several deaths.

Experts suggest it's difficult to find the infected fruit bats as they recover after a week or two but, in the meantime, they may infect people. Bats "may only be infectious for a week or two, and then they clear the virus and they're no longer infectious," said Jonathan Epstein, a veterinarian and epidemiologist at EcoHealth Alliance, New York, who's an expert on Nipah outbreaks, a report published in The Wire said. The report quoted him adding that since the number of infected fruit bats are "very few" at a given time, it becomes difficult to find the actual source of infection.

Meanwhile, the latest victim of the Nipah virus has been identified as 25-year-old Rashim of Neduvannur. He died at the Kozhikode Medical College and Hospital on Friday. Besides, after the death of two people due to the Nipah virus at the Taluk hospital in Balussery of Kerala, the hospital authorities asked several nurses and four doctors of the hospital to go on leave from Friday. The step has been taken as a precautionary measure after the death of these two patients.

DELHI GOVT ADVISORY FOR CITIZENS

  • Don't consume raw date palm sap.
  • Avoid consuming mangoes fallen off trees.
  • Avoid unnecessary travel to the affected districts of Kerala.
  • Don't consume partially-eaten fruits or those with bite marks by bats or any other animal.
  • Report to nearest healthcare facility in case of viral fever and neck rigidity
  • Don't go for self-medication and visit a doctor.
  • Avoid spiting and use clean handkerchief.
  • Wash hands with soap properly after heaving meal or after buying fruits and vegetables.
  • Healthcare workers should use full barrier personal protective equipment before examining patients.
SAFETY CONCERNS: THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND
  • No need to be apprehensive about the safety but be precautious.
  • No human infection of Nipah virus reported in Delhi till date.
  • The virus transmission happens through infected bats or by their bite.
  • It can also spread by consuming mangoes or date palm sap contaminated by fruit bat saliva.
  • It can also spread through close contact with infected pigs or infected patients.

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