A sudden outbreak of the contagious “Nipah Virus” in Kerala has drawn everyone’s attention to this life-taking disease. Taking a toll on 11 human lives till today and still counting, and putting several others in a critical condition, this virus is spreading panic across the state.
Perambra, about 40 km from Kozhikode city, is the epicenter of the outbreak of this lethal Nipah Virus. This is the first time this virus, which has high mortality rate and spreads mainly through bats, pigs and other animals, has been detected in the state. The Union Health Ministry has hurried a team of experts to help the state which is suffering from the outbreak. The isolation wards will be set up in government as well as private hospitals to contain the deadly virus.
Here’s all you need to know about the virus:
About Nipah Virus
Nipah Virus (NiV) infection is a newly-emerging epidemic, transmitted to humans from animals that cause severe ailments in both animals and humans. The natural host of the virus is fruit bats of the Pteropodidae Family, Pteropus genus as well as other animals like pigs. The humans get infected from this deadly virus after coming into direct contact with the excretions or secretions of the fruit bats and infected pigs. This virus has been recorded in the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Terrestrial Animal Health Code and must be reported to the OIE (OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code).
History of Nipah Virus
Malaysia & Singapore: Nipah Virus is surfacing as the most infectious disease that first broke out in Malaysia and Singapore in 1998 and 1999 respectively. The symptoms of this virus were first diagnosed in Kampung Sungai Nipah area of Malaysia in 1998 after a brain fever outbreak. Apparently, the first occurence of this virus infection occurred when the pigs in the Malaysian farms came in contact with the bats who had lost their habitats due to deforestation. Apart from pigs, the domestic animals including dogs, cats, goats, horses, and sheep were also affected by this fatal virus.
Bangladesh: In 2004, the residents of Bangladesh became infected with Nipah Virus after the consumption of the date palm sap that had been contaminated by the infected fruit bats. A widespread transmission of this virus was detected in humans on a large scale which has also been documented in a hospital setting in India.
Nipah Virus Transmission
The transmission of this virus through the air is not possible. This contagious virus can only be transmitted through a direct contact with the infected bats, pigs, or from other NiV-infected people. The people have also been warned that they should not use any fruits that have fallen on to the ground.
Symptoms Of Nipah Virus
The infection of this virus in humans is marked by symptoms of fever, headache, drowsiness, disorientation, mental confusion, coma, and probably death. This disease begins with breathing difficulty, bad headache and fever, and headway to brain fever. The death rate among the infected people is 74.5 percent. The symptoms of this virus could continue for 1-2 weeks.
Treatment Of Nipah Virus
There are no vaccines or medicines available for the treatment of either humans or animals, who are infected with this disease. The only form of treatment is supportive medicines and palliative care.
Prevention Of Nipah Virus
The infection from the Nipah Virus can only be prevented by averting the direct exposure to sick pigs and bats in endemic areas, by avoiding drinking raw date palm sap and not consuming fruits that have fallen from the trees. Immense precautions should also be taken when submitting and handling laboratory samples of the virus-infected blood, as well as in slaughterhouses (in case of pigs).