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Nipah virus infection in Kerala – Everything You Should Know about this Deadly Disease

Nipah virus outbreak in Kerala

The current Nipah virus outbreak in Kerala is a dangerous situation. The virus continues to take more lives in Kerala and death toll rises to 17. No vaccine or cure has been invented yet been introduced to cure NiV. Here is Everything You Should Know about this Deadly Disease including the cause of Nipah virus infections, mode of transmission, signs and symptoms, treatment, vaccine, complications etc. 

What is Nipah virus infection?

Nipah virus infection (NiV) infection is a newly emerging zoonosis. WHO classifies Nipah virus infection under the Pandemic and Epidemic Diseases (PED) segment. This can cause severe disease in both animals and humans. The natural host of the virus are fruit bats belong to Pteropodidae Family, Pteropus genus.

Nipah outbreak 

NiV was first identified during an outbreak in Kampung Sungai Nipah, Malaysia in 1998. Pigs were the intermediate hosts in this case.  In 2004, in Bangladesh humans became infected with NiV. The cause was consuming date palm sap that had been contaminated by infected fruit bats.

Human-to-human transmission also happened in hospital setting in India. Previous 2 outbreaks of the NiV occured in India, in West Bengal in 2001 and 2007. A total of 71 cases were reported in the two incidents with 50 fatalities indicating the high mortality rate of the virus. 

NiV break out in Kerala

The first fatality is Mohammad Sabith, 23, on May 5 from Changaroth panchayat in Kozhikode district of northern Kerala. Two weeks later, his elder brother and aunt tested positive for the virus. Till now total of 17 fatalities have been recorded.  Most of these deaths occurred at the Kozhikode Medical College where they were admitted.

How Nipah virus infection Transmitted?

The primary mode of transmission is via air.  This can also through direct contact with sick pigs or their contaminated tissues. other Secretions from infected fruit bats or pigs and droplets can also lead to transmission.

What are the Symptoms ?

NiV infection in humans shows various clinical presentations. This includes acute respiratory syndrome and fatal encephalitis. primary symptoms includes:-

  • fever
  • headaches
  • sore throat
  • vomiting
  • dizziness
  • muscle pain 

How long is the Incubation period

This is the time period in which the virus acts in your body to show symptoms.  This is the time from infection to first symptoms, is generally 4-14 days. This can be extend to 60 days as well.

Complications and Treatment

There is no vaccine or exact treatment for either humans or animals. The only primary treatment for human is intensive supportive care. Kerala hospitals using Ribavarin, known for its anti-viral properties to reduce symptoms. There will be encephalitic-symptoms and this leads to neurological and respiratory complications. 

No vaccine or cure has been invented yet.

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