Severe paranoia (unnecessarily high importance) about Nipah virus is being witnessed online, on mobile Social media-platforms and real India. People are aggressively sharing “Dos and Donts” information about Nipah virus. People have stopped buying fruits, can be seen wearing masks, not only in Kerala (the first state reported with a Nipah positive patient), but also across India. Courtesy, a couple of advisories from the Government of India & couple of other Indian states such as Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, some middle east countries have advised their citizens not to visit Kerala (or may be India). There are also other signs which point to a growing severe paranoia among people in India, and as a result elsewhere.
Is it correct to call people’s concern as paranoia?
Consider some facts here.
Dengue, Japanese encephalitis and Nipah all are viral diseases.From the information about these viral fevers on multiple sources — all the three have similar symptoms of a seasonal viral fever and paracetamol is the safest drug for such fever. In short, the starting treatment of such fevers is the same.
In short, only a proper blood test can differentiate Dengue, Japanese encephalitis and Nipah from a seasonal viral fever.
So the question is: At what point any Government Health department must acknowledge or roll out an advisory on the arrival of a particular viral fever?
This is an important question to ask because it will save us from unnecessary concern or tension about Dengue, Japanese encephalitis or Nipah.
As of now, 13 people across India have been reported to have died from Nipah virus related fever. In comparison, far more people die of dengue and Japanese encephalitis in India annually.
No one is saying that 13 deaths is not unfortunate and sad. Even the death of a single person is extremely sad and unfortunate. The point is: At what point any Government must issue an advisory in such cases. Particularly when Health services in India are mostly provided by private hospitals and clinics. The basic goal must be to inform people; and not make them excessively afraid. That is, why make people so afraid of a fever that they start running towards pathology labs, when all doctor has advised is some tablets for the next three days!
The pathological tests for Dengue, Nipah and Japanese Encephalitis are very expensive. Unnecessary fear among people will mean every person suffering from a simple viral fever will either go for such blood tests or will be advised to have such tests done.
To conclude, it is necessary for Governments to think over the serious economic costs of such advisories on people, businesses (such as tourism, exports and overall impact on economy).
Health Advisories can be issued that early only when — The government(s) takes the responsibility of all health costs of its citizens.
[Disclaimer: The information shared in the article is just an opinion. This is NOT a qualified doctor’s advice.]