CHENNAI: With neighbouring Kerala reporting deaths due to ‘suspected’ Nipah Virus, the Tamil Nadu government has flagged a general alert asking all Deputy directors of public health to keep an extra vigil.
J Radhakrishnan, Health secretary, told Express that there was no immediate cause for concern. “We are geographically far from the place where the cases have been reported in Kerala. However, we are in regular touch with Kerala authorities. The natural hosts of the virus are fruit bats.”As part of the routine, standard fever surveillance is done daily.
“We have a good health surveillance system, wherein reports from all the 2,900 hospitals are received daily. This is how we were able to isolate Zika virus in 2017 from a remote PHC. Whenever such new viruses get reported within or outside the State, we share the literature with all the public health authorities. So, there is nothing to worry as of now, but places like The Nilgris which are close to Kerala border were asked to keep a close vigil,” the official said.K. Kolandaswamy, Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, also said there was nothing to worry.
Nipah virus is a member of the family Paramyxoviridae, genus Henipavirus. The virus was initially isolated and identified in 1999 during an outbreak of encephalitis and respiratory illness among pig farmers and people with close contact with pigs in Malaysia and Singapore.In the 1999 outbreak, the virus caused a relatively mild disease in pigs, but nearly 300 human cases with over 100 deaths were reported.
In 2001, Nipah was again identified as the causative agent in an outbreak of human disease occurring in Bangladesh. In the same year, another outbreak was identified retrospectively in Siliguri in West Bengal.
The disease spreads through the body fluids, so avoid making direct contact with the patient. By-standers should use precautionary measures such as masks. Fever, headache, drowsiness and abnormal behaviour are some of the symptoms