There is No Nipah Virus in Your Chicken. This WhatsApp is Fake
Nipah in your chicken? Don’t believe this fake WhatsApp, it’s a Webqoof.
Another day, another fake forward on Nipah virus that’s taken 16 lives in Kerala. The virus is a newly emerging infectious disease, barely two decades old, and it comes with over 70 percent fatality rate, according to the World Health Organisation and health officials dealing with the crisis in Kerala.
The virus was first reported in Kozhikode and Malappuram districts of Kerala in the third week of May. The host of the virus are usually fruit bats and tests are underway to determine where this particular outbreak came from.
Considering the high fatality rate, it’s important that we don’t create panic and spread false, fake information. Here’s busting the below mentioned Webqoof sent to us by our readers.
Here’s Why This WhatsApp is False
The original source of this fake WhatsApp message was another fake. That person went to the trouble of faking the official letterhead, office seal and seal of the district medical officer of Kozhikode, according to this Hindu report. The fake report further stated that ‘60 percent of chickens from Tamil Nadu are carriers of the virus.’ The police has now launched a probe and the government has threatened strict action against those spreading rumours.
What’s worse, as a result of this fake news sale of chickens has drastically fallen.
According to Mumbai Mirror, a case was registered under various sections of the IPC, including Section 468 (forgery for the purpose of cheating), 471 (using as genuine a forged document) and the Kerala Police Act.
Nipah Virus Is Barely 2 Decades Old
Nipah virus is fairly new. The virus was first identified in 1998 in Malaysia and pigs were identified as the intermediate host. It spread to humans after they came in contact with pig feces and excretions.
Later Nipah virus showed up in Bangladesh in 2004, where humans became infected with NiV as a result of consuming date palm sap that had been contaminated by infected fruit bats.
The symptoms of Nipah virus range from asymptomatic to fever, headache, drowsiness, disorientation, mental confusion, and coma. Treatment is focused on managing fever and neurological symptoms and offering full support.
What’s been heartening is that there have been no new cases and the last death was reported on May 30th. The local officials have said they’ll continue to monitor the situation on ground and if no new cases are detected till July, it will be safe to say Kerala is Nipah free.
While various state governments have sent out advisories, Prof Ramanan Laxminarayan of Centre for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy says we need to focus on understanding the disease instead of spreading panic.
Nipah is certainly a concern but I am not sure that those at greatest risk are likely to be protected by these advisories. We need a much more robust surveillance and epidemiological understanding of how this disease is being transmitted in India before asking for action else it ends up confusing the public.
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