If you are someone who reads or watches the news regularly, you definitely would have heard of the 'Nipah' virus attack in Kerala, India, just a couple of days ago.
Well, for those of us who've missed it, here is what happened.
The Kerala government has issued a high alert notice in Kozhikode, due to the effects of the 'Nipah' virus, which has taken over 5+ lives, in just a few days!
The Kerala government has identified this as a deadly disease, which is fast spreading and it has a high death rate, so an emergency team from the National Centre For Disease Control (NCDC) has been set up in order to help the citizens take measures to deal with the disease.
The 'Nipah' virus is a new virus outbreak seen in India and it is already causing deaths!
So, here are a few facts you must know about the deadly 'Nipah' virus:
1. This virus falls under the zoonosis category
'Nipah' virus (NiV) is a viral infection which has emerged newly and it falls under the 'zoonosis' category. 'Zoonosis' means, this virus can not only affect humans, but it can also affect other types of animals too. The 'Nipah' virus can be transmitted to humans from animals, which have been affected by this virus. It can also be transmitted from infected humans to other humans through direct contact.
2. These viruses have a natural host
Most viruses have a natural host, or a living being, in which the virus first breeds and is then spread to the others through this particular species of animals. For instances, the natural host of malaria is a mosquito. So, the natural host of the 'Nipah' virus is the fruit bat of the Pteropodidae family, as said by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
3. This disease is highly contagious
Usually, people who come in direct contact with the fruit bats, or infected pigs in the farms or zoos can get affected by the 'Nipah' virus immediately. In addition, interacting closely with other people who have been affected by the 'Nipah' virus, by hugging them, giving handshakes, sharing food, etc., can also cause this disease in people.
4. High fever, headache, inflammation of brain, etc., are the symptoms
The Centre For Disease Control And Prevention has stated that the following are some of the main symptoms of the 'Nipah' virus - inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), high fever and headache, which can occur anywhere between 3 and 14 days from the time the person gets infected.
Other symptoms include, dizziness, vomiting, disorientation, confusion, respiratory problems, reduced level of consciousness, brain-related ailments, etc. It has also been noted that more that 50% of the patients experienced mental confusion as a symptom, which is very dangerous.
5. First identified in Malaysia in 1988; seen in WB in India in 2001
The 'Nipah' virus was first identified in Malaysia in 1998 and during that time, pigs were the natural hosts and 1.1 million pigs had to be killed to prevent the virus from spreading! In India, the 'Nipah' virus was first seen in West Bengal in 2001. This deadly virus has taken over 300 lives across countries like Malaysia, Singapore, India and Bangladesh, between 1998 and 2008, as stated by the WHO.
6. Avoid eating/buying fruits from unhygienic places
Experts and medical organisations across the globe have advised people to avoid eating or buying fruit and vegetables at unhygienic places or fruit fallen on the ground, as the fruit bats could have infected these fruits. Also, it is important to avoid direct contact with animals like pigs and people who have been infected, in order to prevent this disease. Taking measures to strengthen the immune system can also help ward off this disease.
7. There is no vaccine/treatment available currently and only preventive measures can be taken
Currently, there is no specific treatment or vaccines which can treat 'Nipah' flu extensively. However, medications are given to reduce the symptoms such as fever, dizziness, vomiting and brain inflammation. Taking in a lot of fluids and plenty of rest can also help reduce the symptoms. Experts are working on finding a specific treatment for this disease.