Author(s): Blum LS, Khan R, Nahar N, Breiman RF
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Abstract Continued Nipah encephalitis outbreaks in Bangladesh highlight the need for preventative and control measures to reduce transmission from bats to humans and human-to-human spread. Qualitative research was conducted at the end of an encephalitis outbreak in Faridpur, Bangladesh in May 2004 and continued through December 2004. Methods included in-depth interviews with caretakers of cases, case survivors, neighbors of cases, and health providers. Results show contrasts between local and biomedical views on causal explanations and appropriate care. Social norms demanded that family members maintain physical contact with sick patients, potentially increasing the risk of human-to-human transmission. Initial treatment strategies by community members involved home remedies, and public health officials encouraged patient hospitalization. Over time, communities linked the outbreak to supernatural powers and sought care with spiritual healers. Differing popular and medical views of illness caused conflict and rejection of biomedical recommendations. Future investigators should consider local perceptions of disease and treatment when developing outbreak strategies.
This article was published in Am J Trop Med Hyg
and referenced in Journal of Bioterrorism & Biodefense