Nipah Scare: Odisha health dept issues alert to hospitals; MoHFW issues guidelines

Bhubaneswar: With the deadly Nipah Virus (NiV) reportedly claiming lives of 12 persons in Kerela, the Odisha government has issued an alert to five medical colleges and 30 District Headquarters Hospitals (DHHs) in the wake of the virus outbreak.

As per reports, the transmission of NiV takes place through direct contact with fruit bats infected bats, pigs or other NiV-infected persons.

In a letter to the medical authorities, the director of Health Services, Braja Kishore Brahma, underscored the need to take preventive measures against the deadly virus as treatment options were limited.

Although no such case has been reported from any part of the state so far, the health department has asked the hospitals to prepare themselves for contingencies.

The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Bhubaneswar, has already set up an isolated ward to admit patients afflicted with the virus, AIIMS dean, Bikas Bhatia, said.

The health department also advised people to avoid consuming fruits that are half-eaten by bats or birds. It said that a detailed advisory, with preventive measures and common signs, would be issued soon.

Meanwhile, following directions of the Union Health Minister, J P Nadda, a multi-disciplinary Central Team led by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) is presently in Kerala constantly reviewing the situation of the Nipah Virus Disease.

After reviewing the cases of all the patients who have lost their lives, the Central High-level Team is of the view that the Nipah virus disease is not a major outbreak and is only a local occurrence. The Team has also further fine-tuned the draft guidelines, case definitions, advisory for healthcare workers, information to the general public, advisories for sample collection and transportation accordingly.

The public health team constituted by Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW) has given guidelines to the hospitals for proper risk assessment and management of the Nipah Virus infection. The awareness is being done to prevent the disease from spreading further, especially to those at high risk.

This apart, in order to control the spread of Nipah Virus, the Government of India is taking several steps while efforts are focused on surveillance and spreading awareness for risk assessment and management of the disease.

Nipah Virus is a newly emerging zoonosis that causes a severe disease in both animals and humans. The symptoms that start appearing five to 14 days after infection include dizziness, headache, fever, nausea, drowsiness and confusion.

The World Health Organization has named Nipah as one of the eight priority diseases that could cause a global epidemic, alongside the likes of Ebola and Zika.