All about the Nipah virus: Causes, symptoms, and treatment

·2-min read
All about the Nipah virus: Causes, symptoms, and treatment
All about the Nipah virus: Causes, symptoms, and treatment

The Nipah virus (NiV) is a zoonotic virus that spreads to people from animals. Here’s everything you need to know about this deadly virus—the causes, symptoms, dos, and don’ts.

Another Nipah outbreak in India?

Another Nipah outbreak in India?
Another Nipah outbreak in India?

A 12-year-old boy in Kozhikode lost his life due to the Nipah virus on September 5, as confirmed by the National Institute of Virology in Pune. Authorities have now geared up to check for other cases and the spread of the deadly virus in Kozhikode and its surrounding districts.

According to Veena George, the Health Minister of Kerala, two more people showed symptoms of Nipah. “The two are among the 20 high-risk contacts of the deceased child,” said George. Other high-risk contacts are also moved to Kozhikode Medical College and others are isolating. “The pay ward at the Medical College Hospital is converted into a dedicated Nipah ward,” she said.

What is the Nipah virus?

The Virus is termed a zoonotic virus, transmitted to humans from animals by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Additionally, it is also be transmitted between people or through food. Hence, it can pass by direct contact with infected animals like bats, pigs, or their body fluids. You also risk infection through the consumption of infected plant sap or fruits. About 40 to 75 percent of the infections are fatal but, it varies depending on the outbreak, surveillance, and management.

Symptoms of NiV infection

Symptoms of NiV infection
Symptoms of NiV infection

Symptoms of the virus in infected people range from subclinical or symptomatic infections to acute respiratory illnesses. Additionally, it cal lead to fatal encephalitis. According to reports from the WHO patients initially develop fever, myalgia, sore throat, vomiting, and headaches.

However, it leads to dizziness, altered consciousness, and drowsiness. It can be accompanied by neurological signs that point towards acute encephalitis. Patients with severe Nipah experience severe respiratory problems like acute respiratory distress and atypical pneumonia. Seizures and encephalitis can also occur and progress to coma within 2 days.

How do you treat Nipah?

How do you treat Nipah?
How do you treat Nipah?

Unfortunately, there are no vaccines or drugs that target the NiV specifically. The treatment is currently supportive care, hydration, and rest. Moreover, immunotherapeutic treatments such as monoclonal antibody therapy can help. Additionally, the WHO has identified it as a priority disease for their Research and Development Blueprint.

Prevention and management include culling infected animals. However, it is important to observe the incineration or burial of the carcass to ensure low transmission. Restricting animal movement can also help. It is also important to avoid the consumption of contaminated fruits and contact with infected people.

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