There is high alert in Kerala by the State Health Department after Nipah virus (NiV) claimed lives. The government has set up a special task force to constantly monitor the cases. Proper steps are also taken to contain the spread of the virus. The contagious fever has already claimed 10 lives, as reported. It also includes one nurse who was taking care of the infected patients. In order to spread awareness, here are some points that you must know about this virus that has been discovered so far.
1. What is it?
According to World Health Organization or WHO, “Nipah virus (NiV) infection is a newly emerging zoonosis that causes severe disease in both animals and humans.” It is a rare virus with deadly implications.
2. Understanding the effect
This virus affects the brain. A person who is infected will feel feverish along with weakness. There will also be a visible sign of lethargy.
3. How is it transmitted?
It’s an example of Zoonotic diseases, meaning it’s an animal disease that gets transmitted to people. Nipah virus can affect human if they come in contact with infected bat or pig. Further, it can be transmitted after consuming fruits eaten by an infected bat. It can also spread if one comes in contact with other NiV-infected people.
4. What are the symptoms?
After the exposure, fever appears within first 3 to 14 days followed by a headache. Slowly, the other symptoms start appearing. There have also been instances where people slip into a coma soon after the appearance of initial symptoms.
5. The natural host
The natural hosts of the virus are the fruit bats, common across South Asia. The virus is released through their saliva, urine, and excreta.
6. Why the name Nipah?
The first recorded outbreak in 1998 was at a Malaysian village with the same name.
There is no specific treatment and is restricted to supportive care. There is no vaccine for either animals or human.
8. Mutating behavior
There is similarity of this virus with the H1N1 virus, it has the tendency to mutate or adapt just like the latter. This actually makes it very deadly.
9. Precautions to take
It’s advised to stay away from drinking raw date palm sap as it could be bitten by an infected bat. Also, avoid direct contact with infected pigs, bats, or people. Make sure to get yourself tested immediately if you feel uneasy and have been around an infected region.
10. Fatality rate
It’s reported that there’s about 70 to 100 percent of fatality rate for affected people. During its first outbreak in India at Siliguri, West Bengal in 2001, it claimed 44 lives out of 66 cases. Again during 2007 outbreak in Nadia, West Bengal, it claimed the lives of all the five people affected.