Nipah Virus: Facts about the virus that taking lives in Kerala

Nipah Virus (NiV) has killed 11 people in Kerala’s Kozhikode district, the state and health department is on high alert due to these mysterious deaths.  The virus was first identified in Kampung Sungai Nipah, Malaysia in 1998 and Singapore in 1999. In India, the virus was first reported in Siliguri, West Bengal in 2001 and again in 2007 calming 50 lives.  Here is how NiV spreads, symptoms, prevention and cure.

What is NiV (Nipah Virus)?

According to WHO (World Health Organisation), Nipah Virus is a newly emerging zoonosis (an infectious disease which can be transmitted between animals and humans). The virus initially founded in pigs and through them got transmitted to humans. NiV is closely interconnected to ‘Hendra Virus’, both Hendra and Nipah are members of the genus Henipavirus, a new group of virus in the Paramyxoviridae family. Pteropodidae Family fruit bats are the natural host of NiV.

How does NiV Transmit?

In Malaysia, NiV transmitted to humans through infected pigs. In India and Bangladesh, the disease transmitted directly from bats to humans after consumption of raw date palm sap(toddy) infected by Fruit Bats.

Symptoms of NiV in Humans

Nipah Virus usually affects the brain. Respiratory illness is also present during primary stage which causes breathing difficulty followed by other symptoms-

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Drowsiness
  • Disorientation
  • Mental Confusion
  • Coma
  • Encephalitis
  • Potentially Death

Diagnose of NiV

  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) – Antibody Detection.
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) –  Body Fluid Detection.
  • Cell Culture Virus Isolation.

Niv Treatment

There is no specific treatment and vaccine available against Nipah Virus infection. The important treatment for the human is careful supportive care. It is essential to exercise standard infection control practices and proper treatment techniques to avoid the transmission of the virus from human to human.

Prevention from NiV

Controlling Nipah Virus in domestic animals

Currently, there are no effective drugs available for either people or animals.  Regular cleaning of pig farms can be helpful in preventing infection of the virus. If an epidemic is suspected, the animal place should quarantine immediately.

Decreasing the risk of infection in Humans

The only way to reduce NiV infection in human is to increase awareness of the risk factors and educating them about the safety measures they can take to avoid exposure and decrease infection from Nipah virus.

Decreasing the risk of Bat to Human Transmission:

  • Reduce bat access to date palm sap (toddy) and to other products.
  • Protective covering of sap collection sites
  • Thoroughly wash fresh fruits and boil date palm juice before drinking.

Decreasing the risk of Animal to Human Transmission:

  • Wear gloves and mask while managing sick animal and avoid being in contact with contaminated pigs.

Decreasing the risk of Human to Human Transmission:

  • Avoid physical contact with Nipah Virus infected people.
  • Wash Hands with antibacterial soap after visiting sick people.

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