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DAK  issues advisory on Nipah virus

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Srinagar, May 23 CNS: With a dozen of deaths due to deadly Nipah virus in southern Indian state of Kerala, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Wednesday has asked health authorities in Kashmir to be prepared for contingencies.

“There is no need to panic, but there is always a possibility of an infected person travelling to other parts of the country and spreading the disease,” said DAK President Dr Nisar ul Hassan in a communique.

He said Kashmir being the favorite tourist destination, the virus can come to us anytime. We have to be prepared and alert. We need to gear up our hospitals to combat any eventuality.

Dr Nisar said Nipah virus is a newly emerging disease which can be transmitted to humans through direct contact with infected person. You can contract it if you get in touch with the secretions of infected person. The virus can also pass on to you through contaminated water or fruits.

He said while there is currently no vaccine or drug for the disease, the treatment is limited to supportive care. With no specific drug to treat the disease, many patients die within a few days.

Alarmingly, Nipah virus has a mortality rate of 75 percent, making it one of the most dreaded disease.

Dr Nisar said to avoid being infected by the virus, people should wash fruits before eating. People should maintain routine of hand washing and not eat raw fruits and vegetables without washing them.

“However, there is no problem with boiled or cooked food,” he added.

Dr Nisar said we need to keep a watch on suspects, particularly if a person comes from outbreak area.

“Isolating cases and suspects are crucial to prevent the spread of disease,” he said adding “hospital staff need to strictly use the PPE, follow personal hygiene and infection control practices.”

“Nipah virus is associated with fatal inflammation of brain. Symptoms typically present one to two weeks after exposure and include fever, headache, convulsions, drowsiness, delirium and even coma,” said Dr Nisar.

“The virus was first identified during an outbreak in Malaysia in 1998. In 2004, many were infected in Bangladesh after consuming date palm sap contaminated by infected bats,” he informed.