Nipah virus (NiV), that has claimed three lives in Kerala’s Kozhikode district, poses no threat in other parts of the country and there is no need to panic as it is just another viral infection, said a senior doctor here on Monday. “Nipah virus is just another viral infection which affects the respiratory and central nervous systems with symptoms like drowsiness. Like most other viral infections, Nipah, too, has no treatment and can only be managed through intensive supportive care,” said Atul Gogia, Senior Consultant, Department of Medicine, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.
Gogia said the virus is spread by fruit bats, which are usually found in forests but due to urbanisation, are sometimes found even in cities. He did not rule out the possibility of an infected person travelling to other parts of the country and spreading the disease. “However, there is no threat to other parts of the country including north India and Delhi as we hardly have bats in the cities. There is nothing to panic and it cannot be called an outbreak in the real sense,” he said.
For the high fatality seen till now in Kerala, Gogia said one cannot draw conclusions from a small number of patients afflicted with Nipah virus. The virus has claimed the lives of two brothers and their aunt in Perambara in Kozhikode district within a few weeks, and now eight more people are under close observation. As for those living in areas inhabited by bats, Gogia said people should generally be alert when they come in contact with any form of wildlife as there is a host of other infections that can be afflicted. Transmission of NiV takes place through direct contact with infected bats, pigs or from other NiV-infected people.