Precaution and not panic is the key in preventing Nipah infection: HCFI

11:31 am Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine, Social Health Community

Monitoring and surveillance are the need of the hour

New Delhi, 6th June 2019: A total of 314 people have been quarantined and placed under observation for having been in immediate contact with the 23-year-old youth diagnosed as having contracted the Nipah virus. The boy, however, is stable and eating well. Two more persons were admitted to the Government Medical College (GMC), Ernakulam, taking the numbers of suspected Nipah infections to seven. The need of the hour is to educate the public on taking precautions and not panic.

Nipah virus infection is a newly emerging zoonosis, which causes severe disease in both humans and animals. The associated mortality is high. The natural hosts for the Nipah virus are the fruit bats of the Pteropus genus, which are symptomless carriers.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr K K Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “About 60% diseases in humans and 75% of emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic in nature and are spread from animals to humans. Nipah is an emerging disease. Many re-emerging diseases such as avian influenza are also transmitted from animals to humans. Animals are also susceptible to some diseases and environment hazards similar to humans. Hence, they may also be early warning signs of impending human illness. Zoonotic diseases should be identified at their animal source itself and acted upon at that point of time in the cycle. And, instead of considering a human patient as the index case, the infected animal should be the index case.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “There are lessons to be learnt from the Nipah outbreak. Monitoring systems should be in place preempt any future outbreaks. Disease surveillance should be continual and not episodic. It is also of utmost importance to increase public awareness about these diseases so that they can take due precautions. Otherwise, a small outbreak such as this may well turn into an epidemic.”

With geographical boundaries fast disappearing today, the pathogens get greater opportunity to rapidly travel around the world to different locations where they were previously unknown. However, there is no need to panic and some precautions must be taken to prevent the infection from spreading.

  • 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.
  • Avoid contact with anyone who has contracted the disease. Sanitize and wash your hands thoroughly if 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.

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