Nipah Virus: Symptoms and Prevention

The other day when I was going through the news, one article attracted me. It was about the NiV infection, popularly known as “Nipah Virus”. The article was titled as “Deadly Virus claims lives in India”. At first I thought that it was just a common virus but later on when I read the article I learned that 17 people out of 19, who were affected, were killed by this Nipah virus. It was a shocking 75% mortality rate. And after knowing that the infection from this virus is highly contagious I started looking for ways to prevent getting affected from this virus. I got to know many things about the origin and spreading of this NiV. I wanted to share that with others so that one can protect himself from getting infected.

Nipah Virus: The Origin

Nipah virus was first identified in a place called “Kampung Sungai Nipah” which is located in Malaysia. Now you might have understood where this deadly virus gets its name from. It was in 1988 when the worlds first Nipah case was identified. Fruits bats of Pteropodidae family were the natural host, the home for the virus. This virus gets transmitted from the enzymes and secretions of these flying foxes. Pigs acted as the intermediate hosts. These types of infections that can transmit between animals and humans are called zoonosis. Nipah is a zoonotic virus.

Sick Pigs Sicked Humans

When the virus was first identified in Malaysia, the scientists found that the pigs were the culprits. The pigs were the main reason behind the deadly virus’s transmission in the first recognized cases.

The unprotected secretions from the pork caused all the mess. People started getting sick from sick pigs’ tissue.Whereas human-to-human transmissions have also been identified. People taking care of the victims were also diagnosed with the virus after a few days.

The later cases identified in Bangladesh and India were a result of consuming fruits that were bitten by the infected bats. The bats, which were the source of this virus, contaminated the fruits with their saliva and urine.

In India: Not First Time

In India it is not the first time that people are affected. In 2001, in a place called Siliguri, north part Bengal, people started falling sick because of an unknown virus. It wasn’t identified to be NiV then. It mainly affected medical practitioners and medical staff as they were vulnerable to get affected to this virus from the infected patients.

Identifying The Virus: The Silent Killer

Let me tell you that this virus is “asymptomatic” in nature which means that this virus does not show any symptoms. It causes respiratory infections and causes Encephalitis, an infection that causes inflammation in brain. It is fatal and can cause death if not been given intensive medical care. It can also in some cases lead to coma in 24 to 48 hours.

However it exhibits some symptoms like fever, headache, myalgia(muscle pain), vomiting and sore throat. If you are witnessing any of these don’t delay any further and consult a doctor immediately. It takes 4 to 14 days for the virus to exhibit any signs after the victim gets affected. The case fatality of this virus is 40% to 75% according to WHO reports.

Treatment: The Incurable

I am sad to tell you that this deadly virus doesn’t have any medications so far. There is no vaccine for this virus. WHO has announced that the vaccine for this virus is the top priority of its research department for now.

But the respiratory and encephalitis infections can be taken care of in intensive medical supervision. The victims must be taken care very careful because the survival chances for them are very low. Even though the person survives from acute encephalitis they experience personality changes and neural disfuctioning

Prevention Is Always Better Than Cure

Here comes our proverb “Cleanliness is godliness”. Keeping surroundings clean is the first thing to be done for a healthy living. Animal farms are to be properly maintained as animals are very much vulnerable to this virus. In case any animal dies it has to properly cremated. No bodily remains should be left.

Fruits should be cleaned well and vegetables must also be cooked well. Washing fruits properly before consumption is highly recommended. Pets are to be checked for any symptoms and should be taken to the nearby veterinary in case you identified any.

Flash Facts: The Super 6

  • Nipah virus infection in humans causes a range of clinical presentations, from asymptomatic infection (subclinical) to acute respiratory infection and fatal encephalitis.
  • The case fatality rate is estimated at 40% to 75%. This rate can vary by outbreak depending on local capabilities for epidemiological surveillance and clinical management.
  • Nipah virus can be transmitted to humans from animals (such as bats or pigs), or contaminated foods and can also be transmitted directly from human-to-human.
  • Fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are the natural host of Nipah virus.
  • There is no treatment or vaccine available for either people or animals. The primary treatment for humans is supportive care.
  • The 2018 annual review of the WHO R&D Blueprint list of priority diseases indicates that there is an urgent need for accelerated research and development for the Nipah virus.  [facts credicts from WHO]

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