All you need to know about Nipah Virus (NiV)


Kerala has been reporting the death of people due to some unknown viral attack since 2-3 weeks. As per the National Institute of Virology, Pune, they were caused by Nipah Virus (NiV). 

As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), Nipah Virus is a newly emerging zoonosis that causes a severe disease in both animals and humans. It is not an airborne transmission infection; it can only affect those who come in direct contact with contaminated bodies.

Nipah virus is “top of the list” of 10 priority diseases that the WHO has identified as potentials for the next major outbreak.

Here is all you need to know about Nipah Virus (NiV):

  • As per the reports, The infection spread from the Two brothers, both in their twenties, in Perambara in rural Kozhikode who was the first to be brought to the hospital with symptoms of Nipah, died. A woman who was with them in the hospital also died due to infection. Their father is in a critical condition.
  • All the other infected people have come in contact with the family in some way, says Kerala Health minister KK Shylaja.
  • Dead bats found in a well in their home are believed to have caused the infection. Officials visited the house and have sealed the well.

As quoted by the WHO, the natural host of the Nipah Virus (NiV) are fruit bats of the Pteropodidae Family, Pteropus genus.

  • The nurse who was on the team that treated the family, Lini Puthussery, also died. The 31-year-old mother of two left a heart-wrenching final note for her husband. She couldn’t meet her family as she was kept in an isolation ward. She was cremated soon after her death to prevent the spread of infection.

There is no vaccine yet for the Nipah Virus (NiV), which spreads mostly through direct contact. Doctors say the virus spreads fast and leads to death in 70 percent cases.

  • Nipah Virus (NiV) is also capable of causing disease in pigs and other domestic animals. There is no vaccine for either humans or animals.

History:

Nipah Virus (NiV) was first identified during an outbreak of disease that took place in Kampung Sungai Nipah, Malaysia in 1998. On this occasion, pigs were the intermediate hosts. However, in subsequent NiV outbreaks, there were no intermediate hosts.

  • Nipah Virus (NiV) infected as many as 265 people then, out of which 40 percent were taken under intensive care due to the infection having spread severely. the  fruit bats are the natural host of the virus according to WHO
  • As of 20 April 2004 in Bangladesh, humans became infected with NiV as a result of consuming date palm sap that had been contaminated by infected fruit bats. 
  • Humans who were infected by other humans were reported in Bangladesh and India.
  • NiV infection in humans has a range of clinical presentations, from asymptomatic infection to the acute respiratory syndrome and fatal encephalitis.
  • The primary treatment for human cases is intensive supportive care.

How it spreads:

  • Nipah virus can be transmitted from fruit bats to humans through contact with infected bat secretions – for example by consuming raw date palm sap.
  • The virus can also spread to domestic animals, notably pigs.
  • NiV can also be transmitted through close contact with infected patients.

Symptoms:

  • Nipah Virus is usually associated with inflammation of the brain due to which severe days of fever can often lead to a state of confusion, disorientation and even persistent drowsiness. If not taken care of, these symptoms can even cause a coma in a span of 24-48 hours.
  • There are many patients who show neurological, respiratory and pulmonary signs as well. Therefore, do not ignore any such signs.

Some common signs and symptoms of NiV are a headache, fever, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness and mental issues such as confusion. These symptoms can last up to 7-10 days.
Prevention and cure

Precautions:

Pregnant women, children and the elderly are more susceptible to the disease as their immunity is low. Any breathlessness or cough that occurs out of proportion to the one’s daily routine should be reported immediately, doctors said.

  • As of now, there is no particular vaccine available. The only way to treat this virus is through intensive supportive care.

 It is safe to say that you should stay from consuming date palm for some time, Since drinking raw date palm sap bitten by a bat can also cause NiV.

  • Hospitals also need to raise awareness about symptoms and transmission to avoid human-to-human infections in such settings.
  •  if anyone notices any of the symptoms, they should get tested thoroughly from a recognized facility. 
  • Avoid direct contact with infected pigs, bats, and humans in endemic regions.

Health professionals attending to such patients should take precautionary measures, such as wearing masks and gloves.

If you are in and around an infected region and feel  uneasiness, Go for expert advice immediately.

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Source: NDTV, BBC, and WHO

Image source: Google images

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