Goa vigilant about Nipah virus

The Goa government has said that though there is no case of Nipah virus reported in the State so far, it would ask doctors to stay vigilant


Panaji: The State government has appealed to citizens not to panic in the wake of social media messages being spread about the Nipah virus.

Health minister Vishwajit Rane said the Goa government has not received an alert from the National Centre for Disease Control, New Delhi, regarding the virus infection that has hit Kozhikode in Kerala.

If doctors find a patient showing symptoms of the virus, which has claimed 10 lives in Kerala, they would be asked to immediately send that person’s samples for laboratory testing, Health Minister Vishwajit Rane said on Wednesday.

The Nipah virus is not airborne and will not spread like H1N1, an official said. The health department’s surveillance mechanism for emerging and epidemic-prone diseases is in place, which involves samples being sent to the National Institute of Virology, Pune.

He notified a committee, headed by the health secretary and other department officers, which would draw a protocol, in case there are cases of the virus reported in the tourist State.

“At present, there is no reason to worry as there is not a single case of Nipah virus in Goa. The Centre has also not issued any alert except for a general advisory, briefing about the origin and symptoms of the virus,” Rane said.

The Nipah virus has so far claimed 10 lives in Kozhikode and Malappuram districts in north Kerala. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has been informed about the outbreak of the virus in Kerala.

Two persons — Rajan and Ashokan — who were undergoing treatment at Kozhikode and a nursing assistant, Lini died yesterday. They have been confirmed to have contracted the virus and two other deaths were reported on 20 May from Malappuram.

Fruit-eating bats are the primary host of the Nipah Virus, which can cause disease in both animals and humans. So far there is no vaccine against the virus which was first identified in 1998 in Kampung Sungai Nipah, Malaysia.

Nipah virus (NiV) infection is a newly emerging zoonosis that causes severe disease in both animals and humans. The natural host of the virus is fruit bats of the Pteropodidae Family, Pteropus genus.

NiV was first identified during an outbreak of disease that took place in Kampung Sungai Nipah, Malaysia in 1998. On this occasion, pigs were the intermediate hosts. However, in subsequent NiV outbreaks, there were no intermediate hosts. In Bangladesh in 2004, humans became infected with NiV as a result of consuming date palm sap that had been contaminated by infected fruit bats. Human-to-human transmission has also been documented, including in a hospital setting in India.

NiV infection in humans has a range of clinical presentations, from asymptomatic infection to the acute respiratory syndrome and fatal encephalitis. NiV is also capable of causing disease in pigs and other domestic animals. There is no vaccine for either humans or animals. The primary treatment for human cases is intensive supportive care.