Nipah virus: Madhya Pradesh Health Ministry issues advisory

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"This is not unusual, but the department has sent bat samples for tests as a precautionary measure", said the official, Ramesh Kang.

Nipah virus may not have spread beyond Kerala but its scare has spread across the country with several states investigating suspicious cases and issuing advisories on precautions and travel to Kerala. "People should avoid going to areas that might have bats".

"The government has issued an alert of Nipah virus in view of its outbreak in Kerala", said health department official R. D. Ranjan. However, Bihar reports encephalitis cases every summer, and as one of the reasons of death from Nipah is brain fever - also a symptom of encephalitis - the state health society has chose to keep track.

Spread of the virus to humans may occur after close contact with other Nipah infected people, infected bats, or infected pigs. Besides, the virus remains an enzootic disease and only a very small proportion of bats secretes the virus.

Three doctors had played a crucial role in identifying the Nipah virus that caused the deadly fever in Perambra near Kozhikode in Kerala.

The latest outbreak in India has so far affected mainly four districts of Kerala - Kozhikode, and its neigbouring districts of Malappuram, Kannur and Wayanad.

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Some can also experience atypical pneumonia and severe respiratory problems, including acute respiratory distress.

The advisory underscored that people who are exposed to areas inhabited by fruit bats/articles contaminated by secretions such as unused wells and fruit orchards are likely to be at higher risk of infections.

"They have to let the health workers know that they have visited the Nipah virus affected places", she said.

There are no vaccines available against Nipah virus (NiV).

"The central team held meetings with the district collectors and the medical and paramedical staff of the hospitals today to review the condition of the admitted patients and to consider further course of action to be taken to prevent the disease from spreading", said a statement issued by Union health ministry.

The primary treatment for humans is supportive care. "People have been advised to keep a distance from bats and pigs".

Nipah virus first appeared in domestic pigs in Malaysia and Singapore in 1998 and 1999.