Nipah claims 5 more lives

The government’s disease monitoring agency has recorded five more deaths from the fatal nipah across Bangladesh since the bat-borne virus made a comeback when it took the life of a minor boy recently in Dhaka.

Nipah virus strikes back

Director of the Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) Prof Mahmudur Rahman on Friday said they found six people infected in Rajbarhi, Jhenaidah, Naogaon, Natore and Gaibandha, of who five died.

“A mother died in Natore leaving her 8-month baby infected,” he told

The virus that infects a person only after drinking raw date sap and later can pass on to other persons through contact is a cause of public health concern in Bangladesh since 2001, as it breaks out every year during Jan-Apr.

The fatality rate is nearly 80 percent while it is fully preventable if people shun the raw date sap.

Prof Rahman says it usually takes seven to eight days on an average between exposure and signs of symptoms — fever, altered mental status and seizure.

Drinking raw date or palm sap in the morning is an old practice in Bangladesh, especially in rural areas, but IEDCR suggests drinking boiled sap or molasses and washing hands with soap after caring patients.

Earlier, on Wednesday, IEDCR confirmed the death of an 8-year-old boy in Dhaka from the virus that left his father critically ill at a hospital.

Prof Rahman said the father of the minor boy was still struggling at the hospital, “but the good news is that rest of his family members is free from the virus”.

The family drank raw date sap brought from Bhaluka on Jan 11 and fell ill six days later. The boy passed away on Tuesday at a Dhaka clinic.

The Director, however, said the man who distributed 100 bottles in different families in Dhaka was not ‘co-operating’ with them after the media reported that one had died.

“We are trying to find out all of those families so that we can monitor those families,” he said and added that the new cases were detected from their five regular surveillance sites.

He said a team of ICDDR,B on zoonotic or transmittable diseases was working in Bhaluka in Mymensingh where the virus appeared to have struck this year for the first time.

Nipah virus was first detected in Malaysia in 1998 but at present Bangladesh, a hotspot for infectious diseases, is the only country in the world that reports the disease.

Though public health analysts believe that border districts of India have the virus, reports are not available from the Indian government to confirm it.

An ICDDR,B study using infrared cameras found that fruit bats perch on the jars, put up on trees to collect the sap, and try to drink the juice. They also urinate into the pot.

The Pteropus bats’ saliva and urine carry the virus. But it gets destroyed if the sap is boiled. “The virus is killed in 70 degrees Celsius temperature,” Prof Rahman said.

As of 2012, the virus has killed 136 of its 176 victims in 21 districts across

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