The deadly brain-damaging Nipah virus has resurfaced in Kerala a year after it killed 17 people. In recent case 23-year-old student tested positive for the virus and four other people showed Nipah-like symptoms. Union Health Ministry has sent six-member team from various institutes for epidemiological investigation and to implement protocols for the containment of the disease. It also given permission to use the immunoglobulin – monocional antibody, if necessary.
- It is zoonotic disease (disease transmitted to humans from animals) that causes severe disease in both animals and humans. It is caused RNA or Ribonucleic acid virus of family Paramyxoviridae, genus Henipavirus, and is closely related to Hendra virus.
- Origin: It was first identified in Kampung Sungai Nipah, Malaysia in 1998 from where it derives its name. Its first outbreak in India was reported from Siliguri, West Bengal in 2001.
- Natural host: Fruit bats of Pteropodidae Family, Pteropus genus. The virus is present in bat urine, faeces, saliva, and birthing fluids, which then transmits it to Humans climbing trees or drinking raw palm sap covered in it. It can also infect pigs or any domesticated animals.
- Transmission: It is transmitted to humans through direct contact with infected bats, pigs, or contaminated foods. Human to Human transmission from other NiV-infected people is also possible. It spreads fast and is mostly fatal. However, it cannot be transmitted through air.
- Signs & Symptoms: In infected humans, it shows range of clinical presentations i.e. from asymptomatic infection to acute respitatory syndrome and fatal encephalitis (inflammation of brain). It can also cause headache, followed by drowsiness, disorientation and mental confusion. Further without care, it can progress to coma. The mortality rate of patients infected Nipah virus is reportedly 70%. It is capable of causing similar signs and symptoms in domestic animals too.
- Treatment: There is no vaccine for curing Nipah virus either for humans or animals. The common treatment is intensive supportive care and supportive medicines. It can be prevented by avoiding exposure of infected people without protective gear.