We wouldn’t have forgotten the outbreak of the deadly Nipah virus that destroyed 17 lives in India last year. The state Kerala is now in the grip of the lethal virus again. Therefore it is mandatory to know about the symptoms, treatment methods, and risk factors of the Nipah Virus. A few basic information on this virus and the infection caused by it is discussed below.

What is Nipah Virus?

Nipah virus is a zoonotic virus that causes a dangerous and contagious viral infection. Nipah virus can be transmitted from animals to humans, and also from one infected person to another.

What are the symptoms of this Viral infection?

In infected individuals, the virus causes a various range of illnesses starting from subclinical infection to fatal encephalitis and acute respiratory problems. They initially develop symptoms such as headaches, fever, vomiting, myalgia, and sore throat which is followed by altered consciousness, drowsiness, dizziness, atypical pneumonia, and some neurological signs indicating acute encephalitis. Symptoms are usually found to appear from 5- 14 days after the viral exposure.

What are the possible risk factors?

The risk factors include having close contact with infected animals such as bats, pigs, and/or humans infected with the virus. Eating fruits and raw date palm sap with infected with bats is also a possible risk factor.

What are the diagnostic tests?

Diagnosis of this viral infection is done by various laboratory tests that include blood tests to detect the virus, RT-PCR (Real Time- Polymerized Cell Reaction), and antibody detection by ELISA (Enzyme-linked Immunosorbent Assay) test.

What are the treatment methods available to treat Nipah Viral Infection?

Currently, there are no effective treatment methods or vaccines that treat this infection. Affected individuals are recommended to be in Intensive Support Care to treat neurologic and respiratory problems according to WHO.

How to prevent this viral infection?

To reduce the risk of infection, cleaning and disinfection of pig farms with appropriate detergents are suggested.  To reduce the transmission of this virus, infected animals should be restricted from moving from infected areas. People should mandatorily avoid date palm sap and contact with infected bats and pigs. Health care professionals are advised to wear protective clothing such as gloves during contact with infected animals or humans.

FACTS TO KNOW

  • Nipah virus was first identified in Malaysia among pig farmers.
  • The fatality rate is estimated to be 40%- 75% (might vary after a new outbreak) by WHO.
  • Fruit bats belonging to the Pteropodidae family is said to be the natural host of Nipah virus.
  • 60% of all human infections are spread from animals.
  • 75% of infected humans from India have suffered lung damage.

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