Recently, 10 people have mysteriously died in Kerala out of whom 3 people have been confirmed to be affected by the Nipah virus. It is a newly emerging zoonosis which can cause severe deaths in both humans as well as animals.
Introduction to Nipah Virus
Nipah virus was first identified in the year 1988 when pig farmers in Malaysia and Singapore suddenly became sick. 300 people were identified to be affected during that time out of which 100 people were reported dead. People who are in direct contact with animals are most at risk since the virus is majorly being transmitted through fruit bats, and pigs.
The current outburst in Kerala has been reported to start because of fruit bats of the Pteropodidae Family, Pteropus genus and the virus has infected people who consumed date palm sap and also those who were in close contact with the already infected people.
Signs and Symptoms
Signs of Nipah virus in an infected person begin to appear after only 8-10 days. Those who are infected with the virus are most likely to experience encephalitis or inflammation of the brain.
Symptoms include fever, nausea, vomiting, headache followed by drowsiness and confusion. The symptoms can potentially progress into a coma as well. Those who survive the disease but were infected for a long time can have convulsions and personality changes.
Prevention and Cure
- No particular vaccine or treatment has been found yet which can be used in the treatment of Nipah virus. Currently, the only way to treat the disease is through intensive supportive care.
- Since this is not an airborne disease and can be caused because of the direct contact with the infected animal or human or if an affected date palm sap is consumed, it is important to avoid drinking raw date palm sap for some time.
- Hospitals need to raise awareness amongst people about the symptoms and direct human-to-human transmission.
- Any person who feels the symptoms of the infection should immediately get it examined through a recognized facility.
- Direct contact with infected pigs, bats, and humans in endemic regions should be avoided completely.