Wednesday, May 23, 2018

NIV rules out further spread of Nipah virus


PUNE: The National Institute of Virology (NIV) said the outbreak of Nipah virus in Kerala was limited to a small geographic area and that there was no threat of epidemic in the country. “There’s no need to panic. The outbreak in Kerala is limited to a small geographic area in nature. It is not going to spread further,” NIV director Devendra Mourya.

Anxiety gripped many parts of northern Kerala as more people showed symptoms suspected to be those caused by the Nipah virus, even as the death toll rose to 10 after a nurse at the government hospital in Perambra - the epicentre of the contagious fever - died on Monday.

Nipah virus is spread by fruit bats and infects both animals and humans. The first outbreak of the virus in India was confirmed in Siliguri, West Bengal, in 2001. Mourya said, “All bats are not infected with Nipah virus. Only the Pteropus species (fruit eating bats) are known reservoirs for the virus. The virus remains as an enzootic disease among the bat population at a very low level. A very small proportion of bats secretes the virus. Human beings rarely come into contact of the infected secretion and develop the disease.”

The scientists used real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) method and IgM Elisa test to confirm the presence of Nipah virus in Kerala. “We used throat swab, urine and blood samples of suspected patients to confirm the presence of the virus,” Mourya said.

“The outbreak indicates that the virus is prevalent in Kerala. This is the first time that the presence of the virus is confirmed in Kerala,” Mourya said. This virus is known to cause human-to-human transmission. “Hospital staffers need to strictly use the proper personal protective equipment, follow personal hygiene and infection control practices,” Mourya said.

There is no vaccine or specific treatment for the illness caused by the virus. The treatment method is symptomatic.


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