Recently, Kerala has been on a high alert of deaths. Ten people were identified to be dead after being infected by the Nipah virus. Fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are hugely responsible for spreading the disease. Nipah was a lesser known virus in the state of Kerala. Nonetheless, this severe outbreak demands understanding by many. Here is what you should all know about the mysterious virus – Nipah.
What is the Nipah virus?
The virus was first identified in Malaysia and Singapore in 1998. During the time, pig farmers in the country became sick. More than 300 people were infected, and over 100 people died. The government to cease the outbreak exterminated almost one million pigs.
However, the virus never stopped spreading, and infections were reported both in India and Bangladesh. According to the World Health Organization, Nipah virus causes disease in both animals and humans, and the disease can be transmitted through infected bats, humans, or pigs. The natural host of the virus is bats that come under the family Pteropodidae, and genus Pteropus.
In 2004, there were incidents where humans got infected after consuming the infected date palm sap. The U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that Nipah virus outbreaks occur once in every year in Bangladesh. The death rate from the Nipah virus is approximately 75%, and the virus outbreak has already happened several times in India before the one happening now.
Nipah virus is an airborne transmission infection. Direct contact with the infected animals, humans, bats, and pigs help the disease to transmit. Thus, people should take necessary precautions when taking care of an infected family member.
Symptoms Of Nipah Virus
The typical signs that a person infected with Nipah virus include encephalitis – inflammation of the brain. The symptoms start surfacing after five to fourteen days of infection. The first ever symptoms include headaches and fever followed by confusion and drowsiness. The symptoms may often progress to a coma, and the long-term symptoms shown by survivors include personality changes and convulsions.
There are even patients who show respiratory, pulmonary, and neurological signs too. The symptoms can last up to seven to ten days.
Treating Nipah Virus
No treatment for Nipah virus is found to date. The people who are affected by the virus are usually given supportive care. The supportive care includes keeping the person hydrated, and treating vomiting and nausea. Watching out for respiratory diseases during the infected stage is a must as it may cause further complications.
And for this particular infection, prevention is always better than cure. People are to stay away from sick pigs and bats of the endemic area and have to avoid drinking raw date palm sap. The infected bat’s excretions can contaminate the sap.
Though unknown and new, Nipah virus shouldn’t be taken lightly. The virus can be fatal and can cause death or coma within a couple of days after infection. Without a cure, the chances of surviving the disease are minute. Thus prevention should be given top priority.