The deadly Nipah virus outbreak has already claimed 17 lives in Kerala last year. Now, a fresh case of a 23-year-old student infected with Nipah Virus has been reported from Ernakulam district in Kerala again. Besides this 23-year-old student, the Kerala health officials have identified 86 others who interacted with this student. They are now under observation for possible Nipah virus infection.
Here is what you need to know about Nipah virus:
What is Nipah virus (NiV)?
Nipah virus is a zoonotic virus, which means that it spreads from animals to humans. Nipah virus is transmitted from fruit bats to animals and to humans. The virus got its name from the village, Sungai Nipah in Malaysia where the virus was first identified in 1998-1999. Normally, this virus affects animals like dogs, horses, pigs, among others. If Nipah virus spread among humans, it may cause a serious infection that can result in death.
How does Nipah virus spread among humans?
Nipah virus spreads to humans if they establish close contact with Nipah-infected bats, pigs or even infected people.
Secretions of a bat, laden with Nipah virus can infect people while they climb the tree for fruits, or while handling/eating contaminated fallen fruits or by consuming raw date palm sap/juice or today. Besides animal-to-human, Nipah virus transmission can also happen between humans. The human-to-human transmission happens when a healthy person establishes close contact with, Nipah virus infected individual at home or during treatment at hospitals.
What are the symptoms of Nipah virus infection?
Nipah virus-infected individuals may suffer from:
- Fever with difficulty in breathing and persistent cough
- Brain fever
- Acute respiratory infection (severe or mild)
- Symptoms similar to Influenza (fever, headache, muscle pain, stroke, vomiting, sore throat, dizziness, drowsiness Neurological disorders indicating encephalitis.
- Pneumonia (in some cases)
- severe respiratory problems, including acute respiratory distress
- Seizures and Encephalitis may occur in severe cases that may progress to coma within 24 – 48 hours
What precautions can be taken to minimize the effect of Nipah virus?
To prevent, minimize and avoid transmission of Nipah virus, one should take the following precautions:
- Wash hands with water and soap after coming into contact with an infected person or virus.
- Do not drink raw date palm sap or today.
- Utensils, clothes, and items normally used in the toilet or bathroom, such as mugs and buckets, should be cleaned separately and maintained hygienically
- Dead bodies of Nipah-infected individuals should be handled as per guidelines issued by public health officials. Any negligence in this may worsen the situation.
- Eat fruits only after washing them properly. Do not eat half-eaten fruits lying on the ground. These fruits could have been eaten by infected animals, especially flying fox which is the main transmitter of Nipah virus.