Although there is no prediction for outbreak of the seasonal rotavirus, and Nipah virus infection, scientists yesterday urged people to maintain good hygiene and proper nutrition to tackle these.
The common concept is these viral diseases are cold-borne, but cold has no role except creating positive environment for such virus cultivation, scientists of Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) said at a discussion with journalists at its office in Dhaka.
They stressed on maintaining preventive measures like regularly washing hands -- especially after sneezing and using toilet, ensuring proper nutrition, and not drinking raw date juice.
“We hope there would be no outbreak of rotavirus [and Nipah] this year. However, there is seasonal risk. So, awareness is important in this case,” said Prof Meerjady Sabrina Flora, director of IEDCR, while talking to journalists.
At the programme, Dr ASM Alamgir, principal scientific officer of IEDCR, gave a presentation on the common scenario of infectious diseases during winter in the country.
Besides, Dr Manjur Hossain Khan, assistant professor of virology at IEDCR, and Dr Sharmin Sultana, senior scientific officer at the institute, presented two research papers on rotavirus and Nipah virus respectively.
They said there is no probability of rotavirus-induced diarrhoea and life-threatening Nipah virus infection.
During winter, 30-50 percent adults and 60-80 percent children suffer from common cold caused by over 200 types of virus. These viruses usually spread through sneezing and coughing.
IEDCR also warned doctors and people not to use antibiotics for common cold, as antibiotics are not effective in these cases.
About rotavirus, Prof Manjur said, “Rotavirus-related diarrhoea outbreak stays at peak from November to February in the country because of low temperatures. This virus is risky, especially for children aged between six and 24 months. Maintaining hygiene is the key to staying safe.”
The virus is responsible for 24 percent of hospital admissions for diarrhoea in children aged between three and 24 months, he mentioned in his presentation.
About Nipah virus, Dr Sharmin Sultana said, “Since 2001, Nipah virus has been prevalent in 31 south-western and north-western districts, during December and March.”
IEDCR recorded 217 deaths (69 percent) out of 313 Nipah virus cases so far.
“Some bats carry Nipah virus and could contaminate raw date juice at night. So, consuming boiled juice or molasses is safe,” Dr Sharmin said.
Infected people initially develop symptoms including fever, headaches, myalgia (muscle pain), vomiting and sore throat. It could progress to coma within 24 to 48 hours.
There is no specific treatment for Nipah virus infection. Intensive supportive care is recommended to treat severe respiratory and neurologic complications.