Nipah virus

India under the attack of Nipah Virus!

After a 12-year-old boy died after being infected with the Nipah virus in Kerala’s Kozhikode on Sunday, samples of eight people with minor symptoms and Rambutan fruits were sent to the National Institute of Virology (NIV) Pune for investigation. With the growing outbreak of the Nipah virus, India needs to put a bid on the measures to combat a new deadly virus.

The world had already witnessed the rampant of covid 19 since last three years, and the population succumbed to the disease has been forever uprising. Months of lockdown and life of work from home has become a new normal for the people of the 21st century and an introduction of the new virus has once again questioned the fate of the survivors. So, the best we could do is to educate ourselves about how we could protect ourselves and our family from the Nipah virus.

What do we know about the Nipah virus?

Nipah virus, scientific name Nipah henipavirus, is a bat-borne virus that causes Nipah virus infection in humans and other animals, a disease with a high mortality rate. Numerous disease outbreaks caused by the Nipah virus have occurred in South and Southeast Asia. Most probably the virus was originated somewhere around 1947 but was first identified back in 1998 and the death rate comprises 70% death rate. The mutation rate is similar to other RNA viruses.

SYMPTOMS– Symptoms typically appear in 4-14 days following exposure to the virus. Initial symptoms include Fever Headache, Cough, and Sore throat, difficulty breathing, and vomiting. Whereas severe symptoms causes swelling of the brain followed by disorientation, drowsiness, or confusion, seizures, as well as coma.

The death rate comprises 70% and the survivors experience long-term personality changes and convulsions. Contact with Nipah-infected animals is the main source of transmission yet close contact with the infected person through exposure to their body fluids can also spread the infection. Fruit bats, the member of the Pteropodidae family also known as the flying foxes are the natural host of the Nipah virus.

Nipah virus

PREVENTION/ TREATMENT– prevention from Nipah virus is as similar as that of coronavirus.  Frequent hand washing with alcohol soaps can prevent the spread of the infection. Since the virus is a highly contagious disease, contact tracing and of course isolation are essential. Also, avoid getting out of the house for avoidable purposes so that you don’t come in contact with the virus and also evade becoming a host for the source.

As there is n treatment or vaccines available, it’s best to follow the covid protocols all the time. The only treatment for humans is supportive care and medications. Intensive supportive care is preferred to treat severe respiratory and neurologic symptoms. If the virus is suspected, the animal premises in the area should be immediately quarantined. Right burial or incineration of carcasses of the infected animals and humans should be maintained in order to avoid spread and contamination.

What are the steps taken by the government?

As Kerala, experiences a huge outbreak of the Nipah virus, dedicated call centers, and controls rooms are set for immediate responses. NIV, Pune has also set up the testing centers in Kozhikode. The union centers had rushed a specialized team to the national centers for disease control in the state. The government also took extensive measures to make sure that the virus won’t spread more. Strict quarantine of the contacts and isolation of any suspects has been started.

“We had a meeting with the ministers from the district along with concerned officials about the Nipah virus. A team will be formed to handle the situation. We have initiated the contact tracing measures” said Kerala health minister Veena George.

The last outbreak of the Nipah virus in the state back in 2018 claimed 17 lives. Infections in 2018 were cases of human-to-human transmission of the virus, thus the health workers and citizens need to ensure complete isolation and immediate quarantine to the infected. 

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