Nipah Virus has been Contained Says Kerala Health Secretaryby Opinion Express May 30, 2018 0 comments
The plague of the Nipah virus may have been controlled to some extent but there is much to be done.
It is a matter of concern that in recent times the country has had to brace for new strains of vector-borne diseases, especially with the onset of the rainy season. The latest in a series of deadly disease outbreaks in India is the Nipah virus which has been detected in the State of Kerala and has already claimed 14 lives. It has, in fact, taken the scientific and the medical community off-guard. While an alarmist approach to the Nipah virus such as was witnessed in the case of the Ebola outbreak is certainly not called for as the disease is under control, what must be a cause of worry is the fact that public health officials have as yet been unable to trace the transmission route for the disease with any certainty. It seems to have entered the country from nowhere. Similarities between the Kozhikode outbreak and the those in Malaysia and Bangladesh, where Nipah was first identified, made our researchers conclude the virus emanated from the animal world — bats and pigs being the prime suspects as carriers of the disease — and then spread to humans. But reports from the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases rejecting this thesis has led to a lot of confusion.
Besides spreading panic amidst the populace due to its propensity to spread rapidly in various ways, another Nipah impact of has been on the economic front. Tourism has been badly hit in Kerala, with both domestic and foreign tourist arrival figures registering an alarming drop; sales figures of fruits and fruit-based food processing units have taken a huge blow too especially given that bats, the hosts of the virus according to reports, are fruit-eating mammals. The only good news thus far is that Kerala has a relatively robust healthcare system which is probably why the virus could at least be detected and preventive measures put in place. But both the State Government and the Centre must come together to ensure the Nipah virus does not mutate into a pandemic.
Research and diagnostics, surveillance activities and enhanced data collection — all of which are crucial for identifying the emergence of the disease — are some of the areas where we seem to be lacking. The Government, while continuing to work on preventive measures to stop the spread of the disease, must also communicate more effectively. Public disclosure and transparency are key public health good practices. This will lead to an increasing level of awareness among the people and encourage them to be alert. The Government must also strictly adhere to the norms prescribed by the World Health Organisation, which has already put Nipah on its priority list of emerging diseases that could cause a global pandemic.
Courtesy: The Pioneer