Date: Mon 4 Mar 2019
Source: The Daily Star [edited]
The Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) has found the presence of Nipah virus in one of the 5 family members who died in Baliadangi upazila of Thakurgaon early in February [2019; upazilas are the 2nd lowest tier of regional administration in Bangladesh]. "Samples of one of the deceased were collected, and investigators detected presence of Nipah virus there," said IEDCR Director Meerjady Sabrina Flora in a statement yesterday [3 Mar 2019].
IEDCR formed 2 committees, which conducted investigations at Baliadangi Upazila Health Complex, Thakurgaon Sadar Hospital, Rangpur Medical College Hospital and various places of Baliadangi upazila between 25 Feb-1 Mar .
During the time, investigators also collected samples of hospital doctors, nurses, health workers and family members of the victims, neighbours, and villagers. The investigation found that those who died had fever, headache, vomiting, and infection. Nipah virus was not found in samples of living persons of the family. "In the investigation, it was not known if the deceased had a history of drinking raw date palm sap (a popular drink), but the investigators think 4 of the victims were infected by Nipah virus from the other," said the IEDCR statement.
Nipah virus generally transmits through drinking date palm sap infected by bats carrying the virus. Meerjady has advised all not to drink raw date sap. If anyone is infected by Nipah virus, health personnel and family members should use masks and gloves when they take care of the patients, and wash hands with soap afterwards. The patients should be kept in isolated environment, she said.
[Nipah virus infections occur sporadically in Bangladesh. As noted in the previous comment (ProMED-mail archive no. http://promedmail.org/post/20150204.3143251)
"Giant fruit bats or flying foxes (_Pteropus_ of several species) are reservoirs of Nipah virus, and, as the above report indicates, they contaminate date palm sap or the fruit. This is the season for cases of Nipah virus infection to occur. The transmission season is usually January to April.
As mentioned in comments in a previous post (ProMED-mail archive no. http://promedmail.org/post/20140113.2168940)
, local residents scarify the upper areas of palm trees to collect sap in large jars. The bats come to drink the sap and defecate and urinate in the sap. If the bats are shedding Nipah virus, it contaminates the sap. If the sap is consumed uncooked, humans that drink it can become infected. Local people say that cooking the sap adversely alters the flavour. However, skirts made of local bamboo can serve as a barrier preventing bats' access to the sap collecting sites. Person to person transmission can occur as well.
It is unfortunate that the public awareness efforts have not prevented these cases from occurring. Perhaps because cases are sporadic and geographically scattered, there is little public perception of risk of infection and serious disease. Until effective public education to prevent infection is implemented, sporadic cases will continue to occur.
An image of a _Pteropus_ fruit bat can be found at
[HealthMap/ProMED map available at: