Everything You Need To Know About The Nipah Virus

Recently, there has been a news that in Kerala 10 people have died after being affected by the Nipah virus. Nipah virus is a deadly virus, which has been spreading of late. This virus is thought to be spread by the fruit bats and other animals.

So, what is Nipah virus? According to the World Health Organisation, Nipah virus infection belong to the zoonosis category that causes severe diseases in humans as well as animals. This virus infects a wide range of animals and causes diseases and death in people, making it a public health concern.

nipah virus

The current outbreak in Kerala has lead to multiple people who came in contact with the sick individuals and they are under surveillance now. Health experts believe that the ongoing outbreak was initially due to the spread by the fruit bats.

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Nipah Virus?

The infections of humans range from acute respiratory infection, fatal encephalitis and asymptomatic infection. When Nipah virus infects you, you may experience encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain.

These symptoms may include headaches, fever, muscle pain, sore throat and vomiting, which can be followed by drowsiness, dizziness, altered consciousness and other neurological signs.

Some people may also experience atypical pneumonia and severe respiratory problems. In severe cases, encephalitis and seizures may lead to coma within 24 to 48 hours.

However, it takes 5 to 14 days for the signs and symptoms of the virus infection to start appearing. According to the CDC, long-term side effects among survivors can include personality changes and convulsions.

Around 20 percent of patients are left with residual neurological consequences such as seizure disorder and other neurological conditions that have been reported in survivors, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Diagnosis Of Nipah Virus

The first signs and symptoms of Nipah virus are non-specific and the diagnosis is often not suspected at the time when the infection starts.

This can hinder accurate diagnosis and create challenges in early detection and also hinder timely effective control measures and outbreak response activities.

In addition, quantity, quality, timing of collection, type and the time necessary to transfer samples from patients to laboratories can also affect the accuracy of the laboratory results.

The infection of the Nipah virus can be diagnosed together with clinical history during the acute phase of the disease. The tests for the diagnosis include real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) from bodily fluids as well as antibody detection via ELISA.

Other tests like polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and virus isolation by cell culture can be performed to diagnose the same.

What Is The Treatment Of Nipah Virus?

There is supposedly no cure for the Nipah virus, as there are no vaccines available as of yet. People who are infected are treated with supportive care, like keeping the person hydrated and treating vomiting and nausea.

Why Are Bats Turning Dangerous?

According to the WHO, there is a strong evidence that emergence of bat-related viral infection is communicable to humans and animals. As the flying fox habitat is destroyed by the humans, the bats get stressed and hungry and their immune system gets weaker. The virus starts increasing in their body and a lot of virus spills out in their urine and saliva.

How To Prevent Nipah Virus?

According to the World Health Organisation, these things can help prevent Nipah virus infection:

  • Steps can be taken to prevent Nipah virus by avoiding exposure to sick pigs and bats and by avoiding drinking raw date palm sap, which can be contaminated by fruit bats or by excretions from infected bats.
  • Thorough cleaning and routine check of the disinfection of pig farms may be effective in preventing the infection. Burial of infected animals and culling of infected animals with proper inspection can reduce the risk of virus transmission to people.
  • Efforts should be made to prevent virus transmission by decreasing bat access to date palm sap and to other fresh food products. It is advisable to boil freshly collected date palm juice and fruits should be thoroughly washed and peeled before their consumption.
  • Avoid close physical contact with Nipah virus-infected people. Wash your hands whenever you are visiting a sick person and afterwards.

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ALSO READ: The Deadly 'Nipah' Virus Outbreak In Kerala: Facts, Prevention, Treatment 

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