Nipah virus is a part of the paramyxoviridae family. It is a zoonotic disease which spreads more often from the animals.
It causes a wide range of health issues from minor respiratory illness to major brain fever. It affects both humans as well as animals.
The emergence of Nipah virus (NiV) infection into the pig population and subsequently into the human population is believed to be due to changes in ecological conditions. There are few outbreaks of this virus and it first happened in 1998, among pig farmers in Malaysia which resulted in infection of 265 and death of 105 persons. Later another outbreak happened in 2004 in Bangladesh, humans became infected with NiV as a result of consuming date palm sap that had been contaminated by infected fruit bats. Some of the recent outbreaks happened at Siliguri town in West Bengal.
Modes of transmission:
- Direct contact with Sick pigs via respiratory droplets, contact with throat or their nasal secretions or contact with the tissue of the sick animal.
- Consumption of fruit or fruit products bitten by infected fruit bats.
- Human to Human transmission among family and caregivers of infected NiV patients via oral secretions or excreta.
Signs and Symptoms:
The incubation period (interval from infection to the onset of symptoms) is believed to range between from 4-14 days. However an incubation period as long as 45 days have been reported.
Usual symptoms are
- Myalgia (muscle pain),
- Sore throat
This can be followed by dizziness, drowsiness, altered consciousness, and neurological signs that indicate acute encephalitis (inflammation of brain).
Some people can also experience atypical pneumonia and severe respiratory problems, including acute respiratory distress.
NiV infection can be diagnosed together with the clinical history along with tests like Real-time Polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) from the body fluids and through antibody detection via ELISA.
Treatment: The treatments available to date is only a supportive care.
Vaccine: Currently there is no vaccine available to prevent Nipah Virus
- Avoid close contact with infected patient.
- Wash hands regularly with soap
- Wear NH95 grade and higher mask to prevent airborne contamination
- Avoid intake of unpasteurized fruit juices and partly eaten fruit
- Wash thoroughly and peel the fruits before eating
- Maintain your and children’s personal hygiene
- Boil freshly collected date palm juice before consuming.
- Do not drink toddy collected from areas where bats are found in large number.
-Dr.Bhavani Sagar Surampally