A Nipah virus infection has again broken out in Kerala — the third time in five years. It is a dangerous disease that has caused outbreaks in parts of Asia. Below, we present 10 tips you can follow to help prevent infection and spread of the Nipah virus:
- Avoid contact with sick pigs and bats. Pigs and bats are natural carriers of the Nipah virus. Avoid any direct contact with these animals if they appear ill or are acting strangely. Do not touch or consume pigs or bats that seem sick.
- Practice good hand hygiene. Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water after contact with any animals, before handling food, and after using the bathroom. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can also help kill viruses when soap and water are not available. Develop a habit of washing hands frequently.
- Cook meat thoroughly. Make sure all meat, especially pork products, are cooked thoroughly until the internal temperature reaches at least 74°C. Properly cooked meat will help kill any viruses present. Avoid consuming raw or undercooked meat products.
- Avoid consuming raw date palm sap. The Nipah virus has spread through consumption of raw date palm sap contaminated by infected bats. If you collect date palm sap, make sure to boil it before drinking. Better to avoid drinking raw sap altogether.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces. Use disinfectants to regularly clean surfaces that may be contaminated with secretions from bats and pigs. This includes countertops, door handles, and other high-touch areas. Disinfectants help deactivate viruses.
- Avoid areas populated by bats. Because bats can spread Nipah, it’s best to avoid caves, abandoned buildings, orchards, and other places inhabited by large bat colonies. If you must enter such an area, wear protective clothing and gear.
- Use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) around sick animals. If you work with or come in contact with animals, use gloves, masks, goggles, and other PPE to create a barrier against infection. Properly dispose of PPE after use.
- Isolate sick people. If someone in your community develops symptoms of Nipah, have them isolated from others to reduce transmission risk. Provide medical care for them safely away from public areas.
- Educate communities at risk. Share information so people in affected areas understand how Nipah spreads and can take preventive measures. Work with public health authorities to promote awareness.
- Get vaccinated if available. Vaccines are being developed against Nipah. If you live in an area with Nipah outbreaks, get vaccinated once a vaccine is approved and available. Vaccination will boost immunity against this dangerous virus.
Following basic precautions like these can go a long way in staying protected against the Nipah virus. Be especially vigilant if you live in or visit areas where Nipah is known to occur. With proper prevention measures, we can try to limit the impact of this disease.