Meghalaya: Health dept issues warning against Nipah virus Whatsapp message


TNT Desk | SHILLONG, May 29, 2018

A Whatsapp message stating that people have fallen ill after eating litchi in Williamnagar, East Garo Hills district has been doing the rounds on social media recently.

The message quoting Dr. Basonti R Sangma saying many people were admitted to the Williamnagar Civil Hospital for eating litchis eaten by bats, caused panic following the recent outbreak of the nipah virus that has taken the lives of many people in Kerela.

As a result, the Medical Superintendent of Civil Hospital has issued a warning to the culprits behind the sharing of such misleading information while the State health department is also seeking action over the circulation of the fake message.

When contacted, Dr L.M. Pdah, who is the State Surveillance Officer (SSO) for Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) in the state, on Monday clarified that the Whatsapp message being circulated is totally false.

Dr Pdah said that he had spoken to the Medical Superintendent (MS) of Williamnagar Civil Hospital Dr J. Marak for verification after the message was circulated through social media.

"She (Dr Basonti) said that if it is going on like this, thousands of people will die within a week. Please tell the children not to eat litchi. The litchis are eaten by bats and people are getting strange sickness. It is affecting Fr James Sangma also. He went to various doctors but sickness cannot be cured," the fake message said.

However Dr Pdah said during his conversation with the MS of Williamnagar Civil Hospital "she me that there is no one by name Dr Basonti R. Sangma in Williamnagar Civil Hospital or in Williamnagar."

The MS also urged people not to entertain this type of false rumour that is scaring people.

"This also falls under cyber crime and action can be taken against those spreading false rumours," the MS told Dr Pdah.

Meanwhile when asked about suspected cases of Nipah virus in Meghalaya, Dr Pdah said that so far no case was detected in the state.

He informed that the state has, however, been put on high alert and all district medical and health officers have been asked to strengthen the rapid response teams (RRTs) under the IDSP and take immediate preventive measures.

Disease Surveillance Officers (DSO) of all districts have been also asked to be in active surveillance and to alert the district medical and health officers, health institutions and Rapid Response Teams.