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Health - January 7, 2023

Nipah virus threat looms largely

Industry Desk: Nipah virus situation throughout the country has remained ‘stable’ for the last two years, but the deadly disease that caused repeated outbreaks with a high fatality rate still has the possibility of spreading not only in the Nipah belt but also in other areas of the country.
Health experts said drinking raw date juice is main cause of the outbreak of the infectious disease. The presence of the virus is found in 32 districts across the country.
The raw date juice contaminated with infected bat saliva, urine or stool matters enter the body when someone drinks the raw juice. But the virus gets destroyed if the juice is boiled. Half-eaten fruits by bat may also carry this deadly virus.
“Nipah virus is a risky infectious disease. We have to be alert to the danger of the virus during this winter and have to avoid drinking raw date juice,” Prof Dr Tahmina Shirin, Director of Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) said. According to the IEDCR data, the mortality rate from Nipah virus infection is now more than 70 percent. At least 322 people were diagnosed with the disease from 2001 to 2021 while 226 of them succumbed to it. The IEDCR data further said two Nipah virus cases were recorded in 2021 but no death was reported. On the other hand, no data of Nipah virus case was available in 2022.
A report of IEDCR said Nipah virus is found in more than 31 districts, most of which is in northern regions.
Dr ASM Alamgir, former Principal Scientific Officer of the IEDCR, said that Natore, Faridpur, Rajbari, Thakurgaon and Tangail are the districts where most of the cases were found.
WHO has already declared the Nipah virus as a pandemic potential virus, he said and advised all to avoid drinking raw date juice.
Dr ASM Alamgir, also a noted virologist, further said all social events like date juice fair in winter should also be avoided to prevent Nipah virus. “The direct connection with raw date juice has been found in most of the Nipah virus cases detected in the country till date. “Bats now move everywhere in the country so the Nipah virus is no longer confined to any specific area called as Nipah belt.

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