Nipah Virus – Causes, Symptoms and Prevention

NIPAH VIRUS

Recently, ten people died in Kerala due to an outbreak of the mysterious Nipah Virus.

Let’s know more about this deadly virus and how you can stay safe from it.

What is Nipah Virus?

The Nipah Virus is newly emerging deadly virus which is fatal to humans and animals both and is known to spread from infected fruit bats. Yes, bats!
 
Nipah Virus is a comparatively new entrant, first identified in 1998.

Causes of the Nipah Virus Contamination

The Nipah Virus is a zoonotic disease (transferred from animals to humans).

  • It is an airborne transmission infection and can affect those who come in direct contact with contaminated bodies.
  • Originally hosted and spread by fruit bats, the disease can be transferred through direct contact or bodily fluids from infected people or animals.
  • It can even be caused by the consumption of contaminated fruit, nibbled by bats or other Nipah-carrying creatures.

Important – 

The disease can easily get transferred from sick individuals to caregivers, so necessary precautions must be taken while treating an individual afflicted with the condition.

Lini Puthussery, a nurse from Kerala died due to Nipah virus infection while she was tending to an infected patient.


Symptoms of the Nipah Virus

Like other viral infectious diseases, Nipah Virus can present generic symptoms which may appear either individually, or in combination with each other. These include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Drowsiness
  • Disorientation
  • Mental confusion
  • Coma
  • Potential death

These symptoms can last up to 7-10 days.

Nipah Virus usually causes inflammation (swelling) of the brain.  Several days of fever caused due to infection can often lead to a state of confusion, disorientation and even persistent drowsiness.

If not taken care of, these symptoms can even cause a coma in a span of 24-48 hours. Patients have shown neurological, respiratory and pulmonary signs. Watching out for respiratory illness during the early stages is important.

 

How the infection spreads in humans?

  • The infection spreads through direct physical contact of body fluids which include urine, blood, sweat and saliva.
  • If someone sneezes or coughs, droplets of the fluid may be inhaled by the person near him.
  • If these particles or drops falls on a surface and another person touches the same surface and takes his hands to the mouth or other open areas – the virus can reach the other person as well.

Prevention & Precautions from Nipah Virus

  • Avoid eating raw dates, drinking dates sap or date-derived beverages. Date trees are typically bat magnets and may carry potentially contaminated dates eaten by infested bats.
  • Avoid exposure with an infected person or animal in areas known to host the endemic (Kerala and other adjoining regions)
  • Wash fruits and hands thoroughly before eating them
  • Use appropriate personal protective equipment/masks/devices in affected areas/regions

Treatment of Nipah Virus

As of now, there is no particular medicine available for the treatment of Nipah Virus. The only way to treat this virus is through intensive supportive care.

There is also no vaccine currently available for the condition, hence it is important to be mindful of its symptoms, precautions to be taken and possible management methods.

By staying prepared and spreading awareness, you can keep yourself and others safe against the Nipah Virus.

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