India's fruit exports face a unusual threat - Nipah virus

WHO warns against outbreak of Nipah virus

"At present, there is no reason to worry as there is not a single case of Nipah virus in Goa".

The first fatal cases in Kerala were reported on Saturday from a family in Kozhikode, as two brothers in their late 20s and their 50-year-old aunt died from the virus.

The virus spreads through close contact with people's secretions and excretions.

Since these bats feed on any fruit they can find, there's a risk of exports of many fruits getting affected.

"We have sent their samples for investigation and have sensitized the administration teachers and students about Nipah virus", Chief Medical Officer of Sirmaur district, Dr Sanjay Sharma, told ANI.

The report said that this was the fourth death in the family with Moosa's two sons and sister-in-law dying from the disease.

"Samples of dead bats have been sent for testing to NIV, Pune, to ascertain the reason behind their deaths".

The Kerala Health Ministry on Tuesday said the outbreak of Nipah virus is contained now and there was no need for the residents to worry.

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Nipah Virus is a newly emerging zoonosis that causes a severe disease in both animals and humans.

"However if travellers wish to be extra conscious, they may avoid Kozhikode, Malappuram, Wayanad, and Kannur districts".

Healthcare facilities have been asked to ensure isolation facilities, ventilator support and infection control practices, and coordinate to enhance surveillance for unusual illness and death of animals.

Though the state has procured "ribavirin" to treat the infected patients, it is yet to take a final call on whether to proceed with the same.

The health department also advised people to avoid consuming fruits that are half-eaten by bats or birds.

Nipah was first identified in 1998 after pig farmers were infected in the village of Kampung Sungai Nipah, in Malaysia. Eating food which may have the droplets of saliva of infected bats can lead to the transmission of the virus. The awareness is being done to prevent the disease from spreading further, especially to those at high risk.

There is now no vaccine or drug available for humans or animals and the main treatment is intensive support care for those who are suffering from respiratory and neurologic problems.

According to the World Health Organization, the fruit bat is the natural host of the virus and often do not display any symptoms.

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