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Siliguri / Kolkata: Nipah Virus (NiV) outbreak in Kerala has rung an alarm in Bengal, which was the first state in India to get afflicted by the Malaysian virus way back in 2001.

The cause for worry has increased by manifolds as a man from Behrampore in Murshidabad has been admitted to Beleghata ID Hospital in Kolkata betraying symptoms of NiV infection.

He came home from Bangalore some 20 days ago and is since down with high fever and nausea. His blood, stool, and urine samples have been sent to the Institute of Virology for a confirmatory test.

It was in the February of 2001 that Siliguri in northern Bengal had witnessed the first ever outbreak of NiV in India. This has claimed as many as 45 lives in just 12 days, including a cardiologist.

“Back then, it was not known that it was Nipah Virus and everyone in Siliguri called it “unknown fever”. It took the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) based at Atlanta in the United States almost five years of research to conclude that it was Nipah Virus that had spread to Siliguri,” says PD Bhutia, a doctor of medicine attached to a private hospital in Siliguri.

After Siliguri, Nadia district in south Bengal was the second place in Bengal and in India to encounter NiV. That was in 2007 and five people died of the virus outbreak. The similarity between Siliguri and Nadia is that both share border with Bangladesh, which was the second country in the world to see NiV outbreak after Malaysia.

“Nipah Virus travels from one place to another primary through fruits eaten by a particular type of bats and then from an infected person to another. Given this, it is advisable that people be a little cautious while having fruits, particularly the juicy ones like mango and litchi. No rotten or partially damaged fruits should be eaten as they might have been pricked by bats or insects,” Dr Bhutia says.

Another expert has advised that people should have lemon juice with every meal to boost their immunity level. “Besides, anyone heaving severe headache, high fever and/or nausea must see a doctor at once,” she advises.

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