Why Preparedness Against Nipah Virus(NiV) or other is Vital Rather Blind Rely on Vaccines?
Created by Urvashi Shah Updated on May 24, 2020
The news of Nipah virus outbreak has lately been doing rounds in our country, warning people to be safe of this disease, which can turn out be fatal. The natural host of this virus are fruit bats, but there have been instances where pigs as well as some other domestic animals can be the host to this virus. The NiV infection has led to several deaths recently in the state of Kerala.
Earlier outbreaks of NiV & its infection
NiV was first identified in Kampung Sungai Nipah, Malaysia in 1998, where pigs were the carrier of the virus. In 2004,Bangladesh few people become infected with this virus through consumption of fruit bats infected date palm sap. An individual suffering from Nipah virus(NiV) is capable of spreading it to a healthy person, when coming in contact with.
Nipah Virus Prevention through vaccination
Until now there is no vaccine developed for NiV but prevention through vaccination certainly includes human vaccination in endemic regions, while also vaccinating livestock, such as pigs and horses. However, livestock vaccination cannot prevent this virus from spreading, if it has originated from the contamination of date palm sap. Thus, most efforts are being pushed towards human vaccination.
Vaccines are a globally considered public health resource. But at the same-time, it is also important to acknowledge that these all are not as speedy as per our expectation, inexpensive, or fail-safe solution. This is why being-prepare is vital as Vaccines have a very specific function for containing disease only.
Nipah Virus Prevention through modifying risk factors
Preventing humans from being infected through non-vaccination efforts perhaps plays a vital, yet less expensive role in controlling NiV disease. In regions where livestock act as a primary host, preventing animals from coming in contact with NiV is relatively straightforward and involves keeping bat roosting trees and fruit trees away from areas of susceptible livestock farms and pastures. This effort has already gained momentum and remains largely effective in some areas including Malaysia, where an earlier outbreak was noticed.
In regions where the primary source is contaminated date palm sap, this is a trickier method to follow as it largely involves alterations in human behaviour. In Bangladesh, date palm sap is collected from taps overnight, and infrared cameras have found nocturnal evidence of these bats drinking from, and urinating and defecating in the open jars collecting date palm sap. Efforts to modify human behaviour are currently under its course and if given sufficient resources and support, it is likely to yield positive outcome. These efforts include campaigns to increase awareness of NiV disease and its source through written, radio and television means; using inexpensive and often locally produced tree skirts to prevent bats from accessing the collection jars, encouraging boiling or pasteurization of date palm sap before consumption as this inactivates NiV.
So far, these methods have achieved success in regions where implemented but has yet proved to be difficult in areas where traditional cultural practices are observed.
With constant climate change and instances of human encroachment in to flying fox habitats, it is likely that the outbreaks of NiV will happen in areas that have yet not experienced the same. Hence, prevention methods will have to be adapted to the new cultural and importance of having vaccine available will be brought into focus.
People are Advised to follow:
Officials from the health departments state that as there is no proper vaccine for NiV, individuals must follow hygienic practices on a regular basis..
People are advised to drink water after boiling it.
Wash hands with soap after coming from outside and before having meals, wash hands with soap thoroughly after touching animals.
Avoid having fruits such as mangoes found fallen near trees.
With these precautions to be taken from time to time, you can do your bit in preventing the NiV to a great extent.
Disclaimer: This blog including the advice provided is generic information and taken from WHO & CDC mainly. It is not a substitute for qualified medical opinion. We advice, Always consult a medical specialist for more information. We strongly recommend consulting a Doctor in case of any related queries.