COLOMBO (NewsRadio); The Ministry of Health says it has already ordered Nipah virus detection test kits and is expecting them to arrive in the country shortly.
Amid the risk of an outbreak of the Nipah virus that killed several people in India recently, health authorities said they are monitoring the situation.
Health authorities however have announced that the general public should not need to have undue fear over the outbreak in India.
The Health Ministry has already taken several steps as a precautionary measure, including the procurement of test kits for early detection.
The Ministry of Heath said it will take a decision as per the level of risk. Nipah is a zoonotic virus, which is transmitted from animals to humans.
It is among the deadlier viruses with up to 75 percent mortality rate in humans, according to the World Health Organisation.
Transmission generally occurs when people come in direct contact with infected animals—pigs, fruit bats or through consumption of contaminated foods and meat of infected animals, according to health officials.
Cases of human-to-human transmission of the virus have also been reported in many places, including India, in families and in caregivers to the infected people.
Health authorities in India have confirmed several deaths and other cases of the viral infection, including in one child, in the southern Indian state of Kerala since August 30.
This is the fourth outbreak of Nipah virus in Kerala since 2018, according to media reports.
The Nipah strain found in Kerala this time is the Bangladesh variant, which is less infectious but has a high mortality rate. This particular strain spreads from one human to another.
The Nipah virus was first detected in 1999, after farmers and others who came in close contact with infected pigs in Malaysia and Singapore developed severe respiratory problems and inflammation in the brain.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 300 people were diagnosed with the disease then, and more than 100 of them died.
When inquired by NewsRadio, several experts said local authorities should take the issue seriously as the virus is far deadlier than the coronavirus, with up to 75 percent death rate in humans.
The World Health Organisation, meanwhile, has said that although the virus has caused only a few known outbreaks in Asia, it infects a wide range of animals and causes severe disease and death in people, making it a public health concern.
Doctors say most symptoms of the Nipah virus match those of the coronavirus and this increases the chances of misdiagnosis.
They say the incubation period of Nipah infection is 4 to 14 days and its symptoms include fever, headache, convulsions, and respiratory and neurological problems.
The Health Ministry said that at present there is no treatment for the Nipah virus and health workers only provide symptomatic treatments.