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Nipah advisory for health societies

People wear safety masks at Kozhikode in Kerala on Friday. (PTI)

Patna: The State Health Society Bihar has asked the district health societies to report cases of encephalitis if they come in clusters from any place, in precaution against the Nipah virus.

The Nipah virus has claimed around a dozen lives in Kerala, but no case has been reported from Bihar. However, Bihar reports encephalitis cases every summer, and as one of the reasons of death from Nipah is brain fever - also a symptom of encephalitis - the state health society has decided to keep track.

"Nipah deaths have occurred due of severe encephalitis (brain fever symptoms) and respiratory distress. Considering the Nipah scare, if encephalitis cases come in clusters from a place, it could be a warning. So, instructions have been issued to the district societies. They have been asked to immediately report to the authorities," said state epidemiologist at the State Health Society Bihar, Ragini Mishra.

She said the district health societies have also been directed to ask doctors to take patients' travel history, of at least 21 days.

"The district health societies have also been asked take contact details of all the relatives and acquaintances of the suspected patients so that investigations can be done thoroughly whether the virus has spread among them or not. Besides, instructions have been issued to arrange for protective gear such as triple-layered mask and for doctors, nurses and other paramedic staff, who are at risk of catching infection," she added. "Public awareness activities have to be organised to inform the public to avoid fruits eaten by animals, including bats."

Mishra said people would be advised to avoid consuming toddy too. She said the State Health Society Bihar on Thursday mailed a set of instructions to the district health societies, district magistrates, civil surgeons, and additional chief medical officers.

A videoconference was held on Friday in which Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme officials at the state health society were issued instructions by the Centre in view of the Nipah virus spread in Kerala.

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