Rumours, the bane of virus control: Expert

Combat techniques: Virologist Koen Van Rompay delivering a lecture on the Kannur University campus at Thalassery on Tuesday.

Combat techniques: Virologist Koen Van Rompay delivering a lecture on the Kannur University campus at Thalassery on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: S_K_MOHAN

Which evil spreads faster than an infectious disease? The question was asked by virologist Koen Van Rompay of California National Primate Research Center, University of California, as he was concluding his lecture on ‘Tackling old and newly emerging viral pandemics’ on the Thalassery campus of the Kannur University here on Tuesday.

“Ignorance,” pat came the reply from the audience comprising students, researchers and the faculty of the Kannur University’s Department of Biotechnology and Microbiology which organised the lecture.

Agreeing, Dr. Rompay said fake news, hoax, anti-vaccination campaign and panic spread through social media were obstacles to the efforts to check infectious diseases. “Educate; don’t spread rumours” was the first on his list of dos and don’ts to check infectious diseases.

“I am very impressed with the way the latest outbreak of Nipah virus infection in Kerala was handled,” Dr. Rompay said. People here were following government directives. Appreciating the State’s rapid response during the 2018 Nipah outbreak that led to 17 deaths, he said detection and diagnosis in second patient, tracing of all contacts, isolation of cases and suspected cases, supportive care and investigational drugs and antibodies and collaboration of everyone involved could check the spread of the outbreak.

Referring to dengue, chikungunya and zika, the scientist said that most new infectious diseases came from wild animals.

One Health

They can infect humans directly, via domestic animals or insects. He stressed the importance of One Health triad which is an approach to ensure the well-being of people, animals, and environment. “Local outbreaks are often inevitable, but pandemics are optional,” Dr. Koen said, underlining the importance of collaboration locally, nationally and globally.

On the success story of the fight against HIV, Dr. Koen said that for the first time, the world today had a good toolbox of HIV prevention. “With proper access to HIV drugs and other medical care, a young HIV positive person is expected to live into their early 70s, a life expectancy of approaching that of the general population,” he said.

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Printable version | Sep 15, 2020 6:44:48 AM |

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