This article talks about Nipah Virus (NiV) which, according to World Health Organization has the potential to cause the next big disease outbreak on the lines of the H1N1 virus, Ebola virus, and Zika virus.
An infection due to Nipah virus was first reported in a village called Sungai Nipah in Malaysia in 1998. Hence, it got its name from the location. It is a newly emerging zoonosis, meaning, it spreads from animals to humans. The hosts are fruit bats (Pteropus genus), birds, and domestic animals such as horses and pigs.
It is transmitted to humans:
- who consume fruits contaminated by infected fruit bats,
- who drink raw date palm sap contaminated by infected fruit bats,
- by coming in direct contact with someone with the virus,
- by coming in contact with saliva/urine of a sick animal.
Symptoms start after an incubation period of 5 to 15 days. Symptoms resemble those of flu, respiratory illness, as well as neurological involvement due to inflammation of the brain.
The virus can cause death anywhere between two to seven days of onset of symptoms. And, the mortality rate is approximately 75 %.
There is no vaccine found yet for this disease, nor is there any known treatment as of now although research is ongoing. Only supportive care is provided to give relief from the symptoms. This makes taking precautionary measures of paramount importance.
Since Nipah virus has the potential for a major outbreak, and treatment protocols are still being formulated, the general public is cautioned to be alert and careful about their health in order to control the transmission of infection at this initial stage itself.
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Nipah virus (NiV) is a type of RNA virus that belongs to the family Paramyxoviridae and genus Henipavirus. It is a zoonotic virus, meaning it is transmitted to humans from animals. This virus commonly infects pigs, fruit bats, and rabbits, but they might not show symptoms of this infection
In the early stages, it causes symptoms like a cold and flu like fever, headache, cough, headaches, muscle pain, vomiting, and sore throat. Later, when the neurological system gets involved, the symptoms of encephalitis, like dizziness, confusion, altered consciousness, and coma are seen.
Currently, there is no vaccine available to prevent this infection. Few tips to prevent Nipah virus infections are:
- Avoid exposure to infected pigs and bats.
- Avoid drinking raw date palm sap.
- Proper and frequent cleaning and disinfection of pig farms.
- Culling of infected animals.
- Healthcare professionals should wear protective clothing while treating an infected patient.
- Proper burial or incineration of carcasses.
- During an outbreak, animal premises should be quarantined.
Nipah virus is transmitted to humans through direct contact with infected bats, pigs, or other animals. You can also get infected through person-to-person contact or by consuming raw date palm sap or other food items contaminated with the feces of infected animals.
Nipah virus infection can be asymptomatic, meaning, it does not cause any symptoms. Or it can be an acute respiratory infection, and encephalitis, which can be fatal.
Yes, Nipah virus is a contagious disease as it can spread from direct or close contact
According to WHO (World Health Organization), the fatality rate is 40 to 75%. The survival rate depends on the clinical management capabilities of healthcare professionals. Individuals who survive this disease develop problems like seizures, personality changes, or develop encephalitis.
As it a fragile virus, it cannot survive for long outside the host body. It is believed to survive from some hours to a couple of days in the air.
Yes, Nipah virus can spread through contaminated water. Water can get contaminated with feces of infected animals or saliva or other body secretions of an infected human
Fruits that have been bitten or contaminated by an infected bat or pig has the virus in them. Consuming such fruits can infect you
The first outbreak of this disease was noted in 1998 in a village called Sungai Nipah, Malaysia, and the virus was isolated in 1999. It was believed to be transmitted to humans through infected pigs, which led to millions of pigs being killed to stop the spread of the infection
Nipah virus can spread through:
- Contact with sick pigs or other infected animals and their secretions.
- Eating fruits or fruit products contaminated with urine or saliva of infected fruit bats.
- If you come in contact of nasal or oral secretions from an infected patient.
Last reviewed at:
05 Jun 2019 - 2 min read
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