Nipah virus outbreak in Kerala has already sounded an alarm. Kerala health department is on its toes to curb the spread of this zoonotic virus. So far, two people have succumbed to the virus while a few more remain infected including a 9-year-old kid. The incubation period of the virus is 21 days and therefore, “a double incubation period of 42 days from the last positive case” is considered as the period during which caution has to be exercised, George had explained. The World Health Organisation and ICMR studies have found that the entire state, not just Kozhikode, is prone to such infections.
The Nipah virus is a zoonotic infection that can even kill humans and cause serious illness. Children are getting exposed to and more seriously affected by this virus than adults, which is a worrying concern. In comparison to full-grown adults, children’s immune system is often relatively weaker. This makes them more prone to getting infected if they come in contact. India.com got in touch with expert to understand better the spread of the virus and how to keep children safe. Dr Neeraj Kumar Tulara, General Medicine & Infectious Disease Specialist, Dr LH Hiranandani Hospital, Powai explained why its spread in kids and enlisted few precautionary measures too.
- Immature Immune Systems:
- The main factor in children getting highly infected is their underdeveloped immune systems. Kids, especially, newborns and toddlers body functions in the developmental stage at that small age. As a result, their immune system is not that prepared to resist infections like the Nipah Virus.
- Close Contact with Families: Kids have more frequent physical contact with their parents, siblings, and other family members. This closer physical contact may lead to the spread of the virus within homes. Also, young kids may not fully obey and understand the preventive measure to be taken as a precautionary measure which simply increases the risk.
- Lack of Awareness and Understanding: In comparison to adults, Kids have not had the same level of consciousness or understanding of preventive measures. It will be difficult for them to understand how important frequent hand washing, wearing a mask, and maintaining physical distance from others to stop the spreading of the virus.
NIPAH VIRUS: 5 PREVENTIVE TIPS
- Educate and Raise Awareness: It is very important to make children educated about the virus by parents or other adult family members and how important it is to maintain physical distance and frequent handwashing to stop the spread of the virus.
- Practice Good Hygiene: Teach kids to wash their hands frequently with handwash or soap, especially before eating anything and after using the washroom. In the absence of soap and water, teach them to take a small bottle of sanitizer with 60% alcohol is a good substitute in pocket to avoid such situations
- Promote Mask Usage: In markets or public places, where maintaining distance is tough and challenging, kids should wear masks. Choose masks that cover the mouse and nose area and are comfortable for the child to wear. Also teach them the proper use, removal, and disposal of the masks they use.
- Inadequate Vaccine Coverage: Nipah virus does not have a specific vaccine available yet. The clinical trial of the mRNA Nipah Vaccine is ongoing. Children are more susceptible to the virus as a result of the lack of preventative immunization.
Keeping kids protected from the Nipah virus requires awareness, education, and taking preventive measures in advance. Parents need to understand the reasons for the spread of the virus and take preventive measures and caregivers, communities, and parents should collaborate and cooperate to stop the spread of the virus by taking measures.