Nipah virus lurks in fruits, go easy on mangoes and lychees this summer
Always ensure you thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables before consuming them.
According to the World Health Organisation, fruit bats are the carriers of the deadly virus. The rare brain-damaging infection transmits through the partially-eaten fruits by infected bats.
Last year in May, the virus claimed 17 lives in Kerala. The fear crept in internationally as well when the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment issued a ban on imports of fruits and vegetables from Kerala.
While summer fruits are delicious and irresistible, you might want to exercise caution before indulging in them. Here are certain steps you must follow before eating mangoes, lychees and dates.
The Mighty Summer Fruits
Skipping mangoes, lychees, dates and bananas can be a heartbreak this summer. But, you can still consume them considering you keep certain points in mind.
- Prefer fresh, ripe and non-withered fruits
- Avoid over-ripe and wet fruits, especially their colour appears different
- Look for visible defects like cuts, dirt or deformities before eating them
- Ensure the fruits don't have a strange smell
- If you are buying fruits from the supermarket, don't opt for box that has damaged produce
- Wash fruits and vegetables properly before eating
- It would be wiser to peel fruits before consuming them
You might want to go easy on guavas this summer. While there is no confirmation yet, a young Kerala student recently claimed to have contracted the virus after eating guavas. A team of medical professionals from Thiruvananthapuram are investigating the matter.
Drinking date palm sap, palm toddy or juice can also cause the infection. For a non-vegetarian, partially-cooked meat of an infected animal can lead to the spread of the virus.
Steps to ensure you are consuming the right thing:
- Avoid fruit juices unless you know the source
- Avoid consuming unpasteurised fruit juices
- Boil freshly collected date palm juice before consuming
Signs And Symptoms
The Nipah virus symptoms are flu-like, ranging from fever, headaches, myalgia (muscle pain), vomiting, sore throat, dizziness, drowsiness, altered consciousness to severe signs like seizures and neurological indications (indicating acute encephalitis).
Other Preventive Measure
- Avoid close (unprotected) physical contact with infected people
- Wear NH95-grade and higher masks that protect the wearer from breathing in small particles in the air
- Wash hands regularly with soap
- Avoid being around animal pens
- Maintain your and children's personal hygiene
(Inputs from WHO website)