Author: Shalini Bisht
Nipah an emerging zoonotic virus
As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), Nipah is an emerging zoonotic virus. It can be transmitted to humans from animals and can become fatal. The virus can be transferred through infected bats, pigs or whoever has been infected. Also, it can be transmitted through contaminated foods and consumers of the fruit bitten by the fruit bat.
Fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are the natural hosts of the Nipah virus.
Transmission of the virus
Experts say that Nipah is airborne and can affect those who come in direct contact with contaminated bodies. Infected people initially develop symptoms of fever, headache, vomiting and fainting. It is usually associated with inflammation of the brain. Severe days of fever can often lead to a state of confusion, disorientation and even drowsiness.
Symptoms may last for 10-12 days and appear after a person gets infected. If not taken care of, these symptoms can even cause a coma in a span of 24-28 hrs. The case of the fatality rate is estimated at 40% to 50%.
As of now, there is no particular vaccine available purely for the related treatment of Nipah virus. The primary treatment for the human is supportive care.
The virus was first identified in Malaysia in 1999 and after that was also recognised in India in 2001 at Siliguri (West Bengal) when 66 people were affected. Now four suspected cases have been quarantined in Kerala.
Hospitals also, need to raise awareness about symptoms and transmission to avoid the infection. Avoid direct contact with infected pigs, bats and human which are affected by the virus. Health professionals attending to such patients should take precautionary measures such as wearing masks and gloves while tending to patients. Do not drink toddy collected from areas where bats are found in large numbers. If you feel uneasiness when in and around an infected region, get yourself tested immediately.