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‘Bangladesh strain of Nipah virus is very dangerous, kills 9 out of 10 patients’ warns top scientist

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New Delhi. With the arrival of Nipah Virus in Kerala, there is a situation of panic in the entire country. Meanwhile, the country’s top epidemiologist Dr. Raman Gangakhedkar told News18 on Saturday that the Bangladesh strain of Nipah causes difficulty in breathing and kills 9 out of 10 infected people. Appealing to the people to be cautious regarding this, he said that it is very important to trace the source of the virus to stop its spread.

Gangakhedkar, former head of the department of epidemiology and communicable diseases at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), had led the country’s effort to deal with the last three outbreaks of Nipah virus in Kerala. Speaking to News18, he said, ‘Our top priorities are to first find the infected patient, trace the origin of Nipah virus, examine all the animals in the vicinity, organize the community and keep medical aid ready.’

On the other hand, Kerala Health Minister Veena George had announced on September 13 that the Nipah cases found in the state were of Bangladesh strain. Explaining in detail about the danger of this strain, Gangakhedkar said that this strain spreading in Kerala is considered to be the cause of respiratory distress syndrome, in its initial symptoms patients feel difficulty in breathing, which progresses to become so serious. It happens that they have to be put on a ventilator.

Also read- Nipah virus is more dangerous than Corona, mortality rate is 40 to 70%, ICMR alerted, also told the method of prevention.

“The Malaysian strain is known to show neurological symptoms, but the Bangladeshi strain is known to have a high mortality rate… it kills about 9 out of 10 people infected with it,” he said. He said, ‘During the first outbreak of this virus, 89% of the 23 patients found infected died.’

The mystery of Nipah is like a ‘crime thriller’
Gangakhedkar, who has been the face of India’s top medical research agency during government briefings during the Covid-19 pandemic, believes that solving the mystery of Nipah virus involves reaching the first patient, tracing the origin of the virus, linking the events related to the origin. , Tracing all the people who came in contact with that first patient – ​​is like watching a mystery unfold in a ‘crime thriller’.

Recalling the time in 2018, when he and his team members solved the mystery of Nipah virus in 15 days, he said, ‘It is like a puzzle.’ In fact, in May 2018, this team of scientists found that the first infected patient had come in direct contact with fruit bats while cleaning the well of his house in a village in Kerala.

Recalling this, Dr. Gangakhedkar says, ‘In Kerala, these bats come to the gardens to eat fruits. In the years 2018 and 2019, the outbreak started in the month of May, which showed that they come to eat mangoes in summer. Therefore, an advisory was issued not to wash fruits and eat them or touch cut fruits.

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After this, another outbreak of Nipah virus occurred in September 2021. However, the experience gained from the process of quarantine and isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic proved beneficial in dealing with Nipah, as the level of public compliance in wearing masks and following safety measures increased.

Gangakhedkar stressed the need to identify new connections at this point, noting that this is the second time the outbreak has occurred in September. “Contact-tracing needs to be very vigorous,” says Gangakhedkar, noting that in 2018, more than 2,000 people were tracked in just three days.

Why only Kerala?
A nationwide survey being run by Pune-based ICMR’s National Institute of Virology (ICMR-NIV) has found evidence of spread of Nipah virus in bat populations in nine states and one union territory.

By July, the survey was completed in 14 states and two union territories. During this period, presence of Nipah viral antibodies was found in bats in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Bihar, West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya and Union Territory Pondicherry.

Citing the same study, Gangakhedkar says, ‘It is likely that there are smaller scale outbreaks in other states, which are not reported. In such a situation, we need to strengthen our monitoring system. He said that India needs to look at the model of Bangladesh, where they have fought the virus through public education and awareness of the common people. ‘Apart from several other preventive techniques, they have started covering palm trees to prevent bat nesting,’ he says.

According to the senior scientist, “Kerala is unique and has good machinery to deal with such outbreaks. The health machinery of the state is also healthy, where community mobilization and awareness is taken very seriously by the common man.

What is the treatment for Nipah virus?
India has approached Australia to acquire more monoclonal antibody doses to combat Nipah virus. According to ICMR chief Dr. Rajiv Bahl, India is expected to get additional 20 doses soon.

Monoclonal Antibody – which has successfully completed its first phase of trials and monoclonal antibody was given to 14 patients infected with Nipah virus outside India and all of them survived.

India had ordered it for the first time in the year 2018. He says, ‘We had ordered these products during the first outbreak. However, by the time they reached India, the outbreak was over. In such a situation, these remaining doses are now being used by the Indian authorities.

Tags: ICMR, Kerala News, nipah virus

This post originally appeared on hindi.news18.com

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