Some 32 districts have been marked as “risky” for Nipah virus (NiV) infection as the deadly virus spreads to almost half of the country.
According to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), the virus has already been recorded in 28 districts of the country.
The deadly virus that caused repeated outbreaks in the country, with a fatality rate greater than 71%, has the likelihood of spreading not only in the Nipah belt but across the country as well.
A total of eight people got infected with the Nipah virus in Bangladesh this year. Of them, five persons, including two children and a woman, have died, Health Minister Zahid Maleque said on 29 January.
In a notification issued on 2 February, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) has issued a guideline for healthcare workers across the country who will be treating patients with symptoms of Nipah virus infection.
Since the virus is not airborne, it is adequate for doctors to wear musk and gloves and follow regular safety measures before and after attending to a patient, reads the notification.
Patients with fever should be admitted to the isolation ward of the hospital and in case of deteriorating health they can be shifted to the ICU, it added.
Besides, there is no need to refer an infected patient to another hospital as the treatment for NiV infection can be ensured in the ICUs.
In an earlier notification, DGHS had asked hospital authorities to get ready for providing services to people infected with the deadly virus.
In Bangladesh, bats mainly act as carriers of the deadly virus. People usually get infected with the Nipah virus after drinking date or palm juice.
Professor Tahmina Shirin, Director of the Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), said the Nipah virus spreads through the saliva or urine of bats. People get infected with the virus when they drink contaminated raw date or palm sap. Those persons then spread the infection to their family members or health workers.
She advised people not to consume raw date or palm juice and fallen half-eaten fruits to prevent Nipah virus infections.
The World Health Organisation says the mortality rate due to the Nipah virus is between 40 and 75% globally. In Bangladesh, it stands at 71%.
According to icddr,b, the Nipah virus emerged in Bangladesh in 2001. Even if people recover from the sickness, they remain vulnerable to severe neurological issues. It also causes complications toward the end of pregnancy for women.