Published: Mon, May 28, 2018
Medical | By

UAE issues Kerala travel warning over Nipah virus

UAE issues Kerala travel warning over Nipah virus

"While the incubation period is long for some, on an average in 90 per cent of cases, the disease manifests itself within two weeks of exposure to the virus", Menon said.

Experts from NIV and departments of Animal Husbandry and Forest have begun collecting samples which would be sent to NIHSAD, to test for presence of the virus in the fruit-eating bats, Dr N N Sasi, the Director Animal Husbandry, told PTI. However, the authorities are still clueless about the actual source of the spread of the virus.

The health department has also not restricted people from visiting Kerala, where the virus has so far killed 12 persons, following directions from the central surveillance unit of the integrated disease surveillance programme under the Union ministry of health and family affairs. The vaccine is based on Nipah and Hendra virus technology that got its start more than 15 years ago by scientists at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and has already done through multiple preclinical trials.

The Bihar government issued Nipah virus alert on Saturday, asking people to take precautions, an official said. More worryingly, doctors found that the virus could spread among humans via contact with infected patients. "Otherwise how could I read it just a month before the Nipah virus appeared in Kerala?" he asked. After falling sick, he underwent treatment at a corporate hospital from where he was referred to Fever Hospital. "People have been advised to keep a distance from bats and pigs".

The natural host of the virus are fruit bats. It can be prevented by controlling the virus in domestic animals, educating and creating awareness on the disease, and controlling infection in health-care settings.

Defining infection as contained, Kerala Health Secretary Rajeev Sadanandan said, "If there are 1 lakh bats in the area and say five of them are infected, the probability of finding one infected bat out of 1 lakh bats is highly improbable". The first outbreak of the disease occurred in a Malaysian village in 1998, leading to over 100 deaths, including those of many farmers who had contracted it through their pigs.

Although the outbreaks revealed that Nipah can be spread by contact with infected patients, fruit bats are now considered to be one of its most prolific spreaders.

Nipah virus is on CEPI's list of three targets, which also includes Lassa fever and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus.

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