KARACHI: Amid growing concerns over the possible spread of the highly contagious Nipah virus to Pakistan, the Sindh government has released an advisory for prevention and control of the deadly pathogen.

“While currently there is no outbreak of the virus in Pakistan, neighbouring countries like India and Bangladesh as well as Southeast Asian countries including Malaysia and Singapore are reporting Nipah cases,” the advisory released by Directorate General Health Services Sindh to hospitals said.

“Almost all the NiV outbreaks have previously occurred in winter to spring season [Dec to May],” it added.

“It’s mode of transmission includes direct contact with infected animals or infected persons or their body fluids including nasal or respiratory droplets. Symptoms may appear four to 14 days after exposure. The key signs of the infection include fever, headache, muscle pain, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, respiratory issues, confusion, seizures and coma,” the provincial advisory said, emphasising the need for putting infection control measures in place at hospitals.

The NiV, according to the WHO, was first recognised in 1999 during an outbreak among pig farmers in Malaysia.

The virus can be transmitted to humans from animals (such as pigs and bats) or contaminated food and can also be transmitted directly from human-to-human. Fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are the natural host of Nipah virus.

There is no treatment or vaccine available for either people or animals. The primary treatment for humans is supportive care.

During the first recognised outbreak in Malaysia, which also affected Singapore, most human infections resulted from direct contact with sick pigs or their contaminated tissues.

Transmission is thought to have occurred via unprotected exposure to secretions from the pigs, or unprotected contact with the tissue of a sick animal.

In subsequent outbreaks in Bangladesh and India, consumption of fruits or fruit products (such as raw date palm juice) contaminated with urine or saliva from infected fruit bats was the most likely source of infection.

In infected people, it causes a range of illnesses from asymptomatic (subclinical) infection to acute respiratory illness and fatal encephalitis. The virus can also cause severe disease in animals, resulting in significant economic losses for farmers.

Published in Dawn, October 4th, 2023

Opinion

Karachi diary

Karachi diary

If govts could focus a bit more on infrastructure and transportation, the heart of Pakistan would be able to pump a lot more life and activity.

Editorial

Starting over
Updated 01 Mar, 2024

Starting over

Both govt and opposition must resolve that their decisions will prioritise the public good over anything else.
Missing the point
01 Mar, 2024

Missing the point

IN a change of heart, the caretaker prime minister attended the hearing of the Baloch missing persons’ case in the...
Fleecing power consumers
01 Mar, 2024

Fleecing power consumers

THE so-called independent inquiry committee, formed by the power ministry to probe charges of excessive billing by...
Unchanged rating
Updated 29 Feb, 2024

Unchanged rating

Unchanged Moody's rating underscores that fears of default will continue unless a new, larger loan agreement is reached with the IMF.
Silenced voices
29 Feb, 2024

Silenced voices

THE state suddenly seems to be acting more loyal than the king as far as respect for the judiciary is concerned. The...
Gwadar deluge
29 Feb, 2024

Gwadar deluge

GWADAR has been battered with severe rains — the worst since 2010 — with both the town and Ormara to its east ...