Basic preventive measures can reduce Nipah virus attack
Basic preventive measures like hand washing, not sharing beds or food, and minimizing the number of contacts can limit person to person transmission of Nipah virus.
“Culturally sensitive health messages are needed to create awareness about the potential communicability of disease among persons who care for their critically ill family members,” the suggestion was among many that came in a recent study report of country's Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) and ICDDR,B.
The report also warned that central and northwest Bangladesh remain at risk for future outbreaks of Nipah virus especially in January through May.
So far in the past weeks, eight people, including four children, have died and 10 others afflicted in the latest outbreak of the Nipah virus in Manikganj and Rajbari districts.
IEDCR confirmed the first spell of the Nipah outbreak on February 29 based on the samples collected from the bodies of the three children who hailed from Bishnupur village under Daulatpur Upazila in Manikganj.
Nipah virus, a new member of the 'paramyxovirus' family, was named after Sungai Nipah, one of the Malaysian villages affected by the virus. Dr Chua Kaw Bing from the University of Malaya discovered the virus on March 18, 1999.
The outbreak of Nipah encephalitis in Bangladesh was first recorded between April 25 and May 26 in 2001. At least 89 people have died of the virus and 200 others affected by the deadly disease since the first outbreak in 2001.
Medical science says symptoms of Nipah virus infection are similar to those of influenza, such as fever and muscle pain. In some cases, inflammation of the brain occurs, leading to disorientation or coma. Around half of the symptomatic cases are fatal.
Several studies found that a high proportion of Nipah virus patients had direct contact with pigs. In addition, many of the pigs belonging to affected farmers had an associated history of illness.
The IEDCR and ICDDR,B study suggested that when clinicians see patients with fever and mental status change, they should inquire if anyone else in their community has experienced a similar illness in the preceding two weeks.
It also suggested that any clustering encephalitis cases should be immediately reported to the district health authority.
The repeated outbreaks of Nipah virus in Bangladesh that result from person to person transmission underscored the importance of developing strategies to interrupt the transmission of saliva transmitted viruses, both at home and in hospitals, the study said.