Fruit trade takes hit in Ramzan as brain damaging Nipah virus kills 17 in Kerala

Representative Photo

Nipah Virus spreads through fruits bats’ bodily fluids and has no cure 

Traders in Kerala, who expected an upsurge in business during the holy month of Ramzan, are severely hit by Nipah virus scare.

The impact is so visible and widespread that major sectors like textiles, transport, consumer goods, fruits and vegetables have experienced a dip in business after Nipah virus infection was confirmed in the district.

A rare, brain-damaging virus that experts consider a possible epidemic threat has broken out in the state of Kerala, India, for the first time, infecting at least 18 people and killing 17 of them, according to the World Health Organization.

The Nipah virus naturally resides in fruit bats across South and Southeast Asia, and can spread to humans through contact with the animals’ bodily fluids. There is no vaccine and no cure.

So far there has been 18 positive cases of Nipah infection, of whom 16 people have died.

The situation in Kerala at present following the outbreak of Nipah virus, which has so far claimed 16 lives, is not alarming as no new cases have been reported, a high-level review meeting said on Sunday.

The meeting, chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was attended, among others, by Additional Chief Secretary (Health) Rajiv Sadanandan and DGP Loknath Behara and senior IAS officers.

“Since this is not a peak season for Kerala, many opted for tour packages at a relatively cheaper rate that’s often non-refundable. While many tourists are even opting to let go of their money and cancel the trips, some are asking us for alternative tour packages or defer the existing trip,” said Anil Punjabi, chairman (east) of Travel Agents Federation of India.

The virus was first identified in Malaysia in 1998. It was recognised in Bangladesh in 2001.

Before Kerala, the virus was reported twice in the country and on both the occasions in Bengal — 2001 in Siliguri and 2007 in Nadia — bordering Bangladesh. Around 71 cases with 50 deaths were reported in the two outbreaks.


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