KATHMANDU: The Nepal government has sounded an alert against the possible outbreak of Nipah virus, recognised by WHO as one of 10 deadly global diseases, in neighbouring India, which is also the origin of the dreaded Covid virus, delta variant.
A 12-year-old boy in Indian state of Kerala succumbed to the infection, the first such incident in three years after it wreaked havoc in parts of Kozhikode and Malappuram districts of the state.
Nepal’s Ministry of Health and Population has urged the general public to remain alert to the possible risk of Nipah Virus (NIV) infection after its outbreak was reported in India.
Health Ministry spokesperson Dr Krishna Prasad Poudel said in a press statement that the risk of the virus outbreak and spread in Nepal could not be ruled out as Nepal and India share open borders.
“The infection of the deadly NIV, which is transmitted to humans from animals and then human to human, causing a serious illness, has now been detected in the Kerala state of India.”
Though the virus has so far been not detected in the country, the risk remains large, pointed out Poudel adding the fruit bat is the natural host of the virus and it is transmitted to pigs, cattle and then to humans. Nipah virus is spread by the saliva of the fruit bats.
Nipah virus infection is a zoonotic illness that is transmitted to people from animals and can also be transmitted through contaminated food or directly from person to person, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
As the WHO says there is no treatment or vaccine available for either people or animals. The primary treatment for humans is supportive care. “It can be passed on to humans from contaminated food and directly from human-to-human,” warns the ministry.
Fever, dizziness, headache, muscle pain, nausea, breathing complication and tonsillitis are the symptoms of NIV infection and its infection rate is relatively high.
Properly cleaning fruits before consuming, eating only well-cooked vegetables, keeping cowsheds and farms clean, use of gloves and masks during animal slaughtering and cooking meat, drinking boiled water, washing hands with soap and water time and again and using of mask in public are recommended as preventive measures against the virus.
According to the ministry, the fatality rate of NIV is 45 to 75 per cent. The WHO recognises NIV-caused illness as one of 10 deadly diseases in the world.