Nipah Virus: It spreads from animals to humans that’s why it’s known as a zoonotic virus. It can spread through animals like pigs, goats, dogs, horses, or cats but the primary mode of transmission is fruit bats. It was first detected in 1999 in an outbreak in Malaysia and Singapore affecting both humans and pigs. NiV (Nipah Virus) has found its way into Kerala, India in 2001 and is back again.
On 11 September 2023, the Nipah virus found its way back to Kerala for the third time from 2018, killing 2 people and 6 infected. Declaring a person affected can be difficult as some people don’t show any symptoms, and some people can develop symptoms like headaches, breathing difficulties, fever, diarrhea, cough and sour throat, severe weakness, muscle pain, and vomiting within a rage of 4 to 14 days and in some cases severe symptoms like Slurred speech confusion and disorientation, seizures, respiratory distress, and patients may even end up in coma.
NiV can be detected via tests like throat or nasal swabs, blood samples, urine samples, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). It can be treated by getting an adequate amount of rest, staying hydrated, using medications for fever and nausea, using nebulizers or inhalers during breathlessness, taking anti-seizure medicines in case of a seizure, and taking pain relief in case of severe pain.
How to prevent the Nipah virus?
To reduce the spreading risk of the Nipah virus one must practice frequent hand washing to maintain hygiene, also ensure proper hygiene for the animals subjected to the virus, and immediately quarantine the animals showing any kind of symptoms. Avoid any direct contact with sick animals, especially bats and pigs. Avoid bushes or trees where bats are known to stay or sleep. Refrain from consuming items that may be contaminated like fruits of palm sap and dispose of any fruits that are laying on the ground or have bat bites. Avoid any direct contact with blood, saliva, or any body fluid of any infected individual.
If caring for an individual who has been infected medical gloves, full coverage gowns, and eye protection, also surgical masks to cover one’s mouth and nose shall be used to prevent the spread.
Kerala has successfully prevented the virus spread and people have recovered from the deadly virus, dreading the fatality rate from 94% to 33%, who has is a remarkable success, which is said to be the first in the world. No fresh cases have emerged as of now in the state. On 29th September it was announced by the Minister of Health that the four infected people had tested negative for the 2nd time after a five-day interval.
According to the WHO (World Health Organization), there are no drugs or vaccines specifically for the Nipah virus currently. The patients recovered from the virus have been advised to go through a 14-day quarantine period and then join the day life normally.