Bangladesh flags risk of Nipah virus in 32 districts

| Updated: February 05, 2023 08:38:50

Bangladesh flags risk of Nipah virus in 32 districts

Health authorities have marked 32 districts in Bangladesh as being at risk of the Nipah virus infection and directed physicians to take adequate precautionary measures while attending to patients with fevers, a primary symptom of the illness, in hospitals.

The Dhaka North City Corporation's COVID-dedicated hospital in Mohakhali has also been instructed to prepare 20 beds for the treatment of Nipah virus patients.

The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) has identified 10 cases of the Nipah virus in six districts of the country so far this year, reports UNB.

Since 2001, Nipah virus patients have been found in 33 districts, according to the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research.

Any area where a case of the Nipah virus is detected is considered 'risky', said Dr Mushtuq Husain, an adviser to the IEDCR.

 “This is because anywhere a Nipah virus patient is found is also likely to have bats and palm sap. All parts of the country are vulnerable to the Nipah virus, but the districts where it has been detected are advised to take extra precautions."

On Thursday, Sheikh Daud Adnan, acting director of the health directorate's hospital and clinic wing, issued a letter to local health authorities as well as public and private hospitals across the country, urging doctors to take special precautions. These include wearing a mask and also washing hands with soap before and after seeing a patient.

They have also been advised to move a patient to the isolation ward if they start showing symptoms of a fever. In addition to fevers, patients should be admitted to the intensive care unit if their condition is critical. Caregivers of patients in intensive care are only required to wear gloves and masks.

But the Nipah virus is not aerially transmissible, according to the health directorate.

Five people have died after contracting the Nipah virus during the winter, Health Minister Zahid Maleque revealed last week.

Patients carrying the virus are being treated at the Infectious Disease Hospital in Dhaka, he said.

Cases of the virus have been reported in the Rajbari, Naogaon, Rajshahi, Shariatpur, Pabna and Dhaka districts this year, according to Prof Md Nazmul Islam, director of the DGHS's infectious disease control branch.

Dr Nazmul believes there is no need to panic, but stressed the need to proceed with 'extreme caution'.

 “There is no vaccine for this disease. More than 70 percent of people affected by the disease die. Those who survive develop physical disabilities. The number of patients may not be high, but most of those who were infected have died. That is why we need to be extremely careful," he said.

Dr Nazmul advises against the consumption of raw date sap. Sales, marketing and promotion of raw date palm sap should also be restricted, he said.

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