A new health crisis unfolded in the country with Nipah Virus (NiV) outbreak that poses a threat with a very high mortality rate. As per media reports, 6 persons tested positive for Nipah in Kerala's district Kozhikode, including the two deceased till date. Schools and colleges have been ordered to remain closed until September 24.1
The mortality rate of Nipah virus is 60%, higher than Covid-19, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research.
However, there are currently no drugs or vaccines that specifically target Nipah virus infection.
1. What is the Nipah Virus?
2. What are the symptoms?
3. What are the treatments and prevention?
What is the Nipah Virus?
Nipah virus is a rare but deadly virus with a high mortality rate. It is a zoonosis that has blow-out from animals to humans. The virus is primarily transmitted from animals like fruit bats (flying foxes), which are natural hosts of the virus. It can also spread through close contact with infected pigs or other infected individuals. In infected people, it causes a range of illnesses from asymptomatic (subclinical) infection to acute respiratory illness and fatal encephalitis. It can also lead to neurological illness and many other health issues.
"Nipah virus was first recognized in 1999 during an outbreak among pig farmers in Malaysia and subsequently in Singapore"
Nipah Virus: 2 Identified Strains
Nipah virus exhibits a dichotomy with at least two distinct strains: the Malaysian strain and the Bangladeshi strain. The latter has been associated with outbreaks in Bangladesh and India. Unlike the Malaysian strain, the Bangladeshi variant is capable of human-to-human transmission, posing a significant public health concern.
Transmission of Virus
Nipah virus (NiV) can spread from human to human through close contact. Direct contact with infected animals, such as bats or pigs, or their body fluids (such as blood, urine, or saliva) Consuming food products that have been contaminated by the body fluids of infected animals (such as palm sap or fruit contaminated by an infected bat) Close contact with a person infected with NiV or their body fluids (including nasal or respiratory droplets, urine, or blood).
What are the Signs and Symptoms?
The symptoms of Nipah virus infection can vary from mild to severe and typically appear within 3 to 14 days after exposure. The initial symptoms are often similar to those of many other common illnesses, making it challenging to diagnose early. Symptoms can include:
Fever: A sudden and high fever is often one of the first symptoms.
Headache: Severe headaches are common in Nipah virus infection.
Muscle pain: Muscle aches and pain may occur.
Fatigue: Extreme tiredness or fatigue is a common symptom.
Dizziness: Some individuals may experience dizziness or disorientation.
Nausea and vomiting: Nausea and vomiting are common gastrointestinal symptoms.
Respiratory symptoms: Coughing and difficulty in breathing may develop.
Confusion: As the infection progresses, some individuals may become confused or disoriented.
The symptoms usually reflect in 3-14 days following exposure to the virus. In severe cases, Nipah virus infection can lead to a Coma, Seizures, Brain Swelling, and typical Pneumonia (in some cases).
What Are The Treatments And Prevention?
Nipah Virus has currently no drugs or vaccines for the treatment. However, the following are some of the preventive measures that may help reduce the chances of spreading the virus.
Avoid Contact with Bats or Other Infected Animals: Avoid contact with sick bats or pigs. Avoid areas where bats are known to roost. Avoid eating or drinking products that could be contaminated by bats, such as raw date palm sap, raw fruit, or fruit that is found on the ground
Limit Close Contact: Since this Virus can spread from Animals and Humans, make sure to avoid any contact with either of them along with the blood or body fluids of any person known to be infected with NiV.
Practicing Good Hygiene: Hand washing with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub, along with keeping the surroundings clean and Hygienic.
These bats (causing virus spread) are currently found in Cambodia, Indonesia, Madagascar, the Philippines, and Thailand. People living in or visiting these areas should consider taking the same precautions
Install Insect Nets: Make sure to install nets or screens on windows and doors to prevent fruit bats and other potentially infected vectors from entering homes and living spaces.
Be aware of your meals: Eat healthy and clean food. In case you eat meat ensure that meat from animals, especially pigs, is thoroughly cooked before consumption.
Vaccination and Treatment: Keep a close eye on the government instructions and follow the exact guidelines in order to keep yourself infectious-free.
Isolate yourself during infections of mild symptoms: In case you feel any symptoms or mild infections, make sure to consult the doctor and avoid visiting any place. Isolate yourself and follow the isolation and quarantine protocols provided by healthcare authorities in order to stop the spread of the virus.
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COVID-19 epidemic is the most recent pandemic that affected most of the countries in the world. However, with proper awareness and guidance, the whole world was able to fight the Virus. It's important to note that Nipah virus infection can be particularly dangerous, with a high case fatality rate. In some outbreaks, the mortality rate has ranged from 40% to 75%.
According to ICMR, the mortality rate of Nipah is around 60% as compared to that of COVID-19 which was nearly 3% in the country
It means being prepared with awareness may help us all to fight again and take care of our health along with our loved ones. Hence we will conscientiously provide all the available information in order to make sure we are all aware of the current situation and put our best efforts to fray such a diagnosis.