|6899 Nipah virus in Singapore &
Malaysia report sponsored by Singapore Real Estate, Rental Houses, Apartments, Condos,
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Last updated: 02 Apr 2000
|How the Nipah Virus Affects
Singapore and Malaysia.
The outbreak of the deadly Nipah virus occurred one year ago. People affected are those who work in the pig industry, particularly pig farmers. It is believed that fruit bats were the transmitter of the virus and that the urine of the infected pig is contagious. Abbattoir workers who slapped the pig's backside to get the pigs into the pens for slaughter are the ones affected in Singapore.
Diagnosis is by scanning of the brain and spinal cord as well as by blood tests for the virus and its antibodies.
The Nipah virus is very close to the Australian Hendra virus. In Australia, a patient who recovered had a relapse 13 months later and died and there may be similarities with the Nipah virus here.
Dr Tchoyoson Lim, an associate consultant in Malaysia, said: "We have absolutely no idea how this disease is going to go. Nobody knows anything about it. If it behaves like the Australian disease, then there is danger of a possible relapse."
Dr Lim said he would like to monitor those infected for 18 months, in case the disease follows the pattern of the Hendra virus.
Malaysia has seen about a dozen cases of possible relapse from the Nipah virus between the middle of last year and early this year. One woman in her 30s has died. During the outbreak, 15 people here were infected, one of whom died.
The six still affected by the virus complain of problems ranging from lethargy to the need for help to do daily chores. But their brain patterns appear to have improved.
It all started in late 1998 with a few cases of suspected Japanese encephalitis in Malaysia. It became an epidemic in March last year and affected over a dozen workers here.
The virus, carried by pigs, led to the slaughter of
about a million pigs. The army was called in to shoot the pigs but later, the soldiers
ceased being involved.
Singapore banned the import of pigs and pork products from Malaysia and shut abattoirs here in March last year. The abattoirs have re-opened, but the ban on the import of pigs and pork products from Malaysia remains.
Primary Production Department spokesman Goh Shih Yong
said the ban continues "because Malaysia has not declared itself free from the Nipah
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