Nipah virus (NiV) is an emerging zoonosis that causes severe disease not only in humans but also in animals. Experts are theorising that it is not an airborne disease, but it is the one that spreads through direct contact either with the bats or through consuming fruits that bats have nibbled on. Fruit bats belonging to the family of Pteropodidae Family and Pteropus genus are the hosts of the virus. It is a type of RNA virus in the genus Henipavirus.
What was it first identified?
It was during a disease outbreak in Malaysia in the year of 1998. During that time, pigs were the hosts. It is the first time for India to get such a fatal disease. Humans were first infected in 2004 in Bangladesh after consuming date palm sap which was infected by fruit bats.
Nipah virus infection symptoms
One may have no symptoms and the other might suffer from fever, cough, confusion, shortness of breath, headache and many more. In more than two days, it can also lead to coma. Other severe symptoms are brain inflammation and seizures.
How is it diagnosed?
A real-time polymerase chain reaction from cerebrospinal fluid, and throat swabs, in which the blood is analyzed during convalescent disease’s stage. When the recovery is confirmed, then IgG and IgM antibodies are detected.
What does Nipah Virus do?
Nipah virus is usually associated with inflammation of the brain due to which severe days of fever can often lead to a disorientation, state of confusion, and even persistent drowsiness. If it is not taken care of, these symptoms can even cause a coma in a span of 24-48 hours. Some patients also show neurological, respiratory and pulmonary signs as well. Therefore, it is recommended not to ignore any such signs.
How does Nipah Virus Spread?
The virus spreads with coughing and is considered to be highly contagious among pigs. The bats excrete their poop full of infection but they are symptomless.
Prevention and Cure of Nipah Virus?
Intensive supportive care is the primary treatment for Nipah virus in humans. The effectiveness of the treatment against the viruses in vitro is hiked by the drug Ribavirin. The drug is useful in the alleviation of the symptoms like vomiting, nausea, in addition to convulsions. However, the clinical efficacy of ribavirin remains debatable to date in human trials. Unfortunately, there is no specific NiV treatment or vaccine available for either humans or animals. The prime concentration is the management of fever along with neurological symptoms.
Since human to human transmission of NiV has been reported the “standard infection control practices’ ‘are important in preventing the spread of disease. Some of the prevention measures are-
- Prevent your farm animals from consuming fruits which are contaminated by bats
- Stay away from date palm sap
- While visiting an infected person, wear mask, cap, gown, and gloves
- The patients are to be kept in such a place where the standard precautions are to be followed
- Avoid the exposure to sick pigs and bats
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