As thousands of individuals remain infected with conjunctivitis across Pakistan, Sindh and Punjab have issued another health advisory.
Health departments of the two provinces have warned people about the potential spread of the Nipah virus. The alerts have been issued after reports of numerous individuals being infected with the virus in India.
So far, Pakistan hasn’t reported any cases of the Nipah virus. According to an advisory by the local authorities, people have been instructed to exercise caution.
What is Nipah virus?
Although the virus is known for its transmission from animals, particularly bats or pigs, to humans, it can also spread from one human to another.
Furthermore, it can also spread through fruits that have been contaminated by bats. Health authorities have urged people to carefully wash fruits before eating them.
The symptoms of this deadly virus include fever, headache, sore throat, cough, muscle aches, diarrhea, vomiting, seizures, and coma.
Sometimes, people who get infected with the virus don’t show any symptoms. In other cases, infected individuals may have mild or severe respiratory problems. It can also lead to fatal encephalitis, however, it is very rare.
Initially, the signs and symptoms of Nipah virus infection are not specific, making it difficult to diagnose during the early stages of the illness. Health officials normally rely on two main tests for diagnosing Nipah virus infection, real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).
At the moment, there are no drugs or vaccines specific for Nipah virus infection. However, the virus has been designated as a priority disease by the World Health Organisation within the WHO Research and Development Blueprint. As a part of the treatment, it is recommended to provide intensive supportive care.
In 1999, Nipah virus was identified during an outbreak affecting pig farmers in Malaysia. Fortunately, no new cases have been reported in Malaysia again.
Bangladesh is another country where the virus was identified in 2001, and there have been nearly yearly outbreaks there since.