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Cochin:

It has been confirmed that a 23-year-old student who had been admitted to a private hospital in Ernakulam on May 30, has contracted the Nipah virus. Though the government is all set to face any situation with confirming it, people have to be more cautious and should avoid panic.

A control room has been set up by the district administration in Ernakulam to clear all apprehensions about the virus. Public have been advised to call 1077 to clear doubts if any.
The infection is usually spread from animal to animal, but in rare cases it spreads from animal to humans too. Bats and pigs are found to be the usual carriers. The virus could spread through fruits bitten by carrier bats or when the excreta of such animals find their way into the foods consumed by humans. It can spread through close contact with infected persons, especially when precautions are not taken. Even direct contact with sick persons have been cited as the underlying cause of outbreaks according to a report in the Indian Journal of Virology.

In case of infection, it takes five to 14 days for the symptoms to manifest. Common symptoms are fever, headache, fainting and nausea. In some cases, symptoms like choking, stomach pain, vomiting, fatigue and blurred vision could also be there.

Take caution to ensure that food is not contaminated by bats. Take precautions to ensure bats don’t eat the food or drop feces on it. Do not eat fruits that may have been bitten by bats. Do not drink toddy that is brewed in open containers near palm trees.

It is also important to safeguard oneself after coming in contact with someone who has contracted the virus. It is important to maintain a distance from the patient, to sanitise and wash hands thoroughly.

Clothes, utensils and items typically used in the toilet or bathroom, like buckets and mugs, should be cleaned separately and maintained hygienically. Hands should always be kept clean using soap or alcohol hand rubs. Hands should be washed with soap for at least twenty seconds.

The virus first broke out in Kerala in May 2018 and claimed the lives of 17 people. It started with three people of the same family from Perambra in Kozhikode exhibiting similar symptoms. Among those who passed away included 31-year-old nurse Lini Puthussery, who contracted the virus after treating patient zero Mohammad Sadiq in Perambra.

With a 75% death rate, Nipah is one of the deadliest viruses to have spread in Kerala in recent memory. Following the outbreak, the first ever virology institute in the state was opened in Thonnakkal, Thiruvananthapuram.

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