What is Nipah Virus? Symptoms, Diagnosis And Prevention
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What Is Nipah Virus?
A: As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), Nipah Virus is a newly emerging zoonosis that causes a severe disease in both animals and humans.
Nipah was first found in ‘Sungai Nipah’, with the outbroke of disease in Malaysia in the year 1998, where pig farmers identified with encephalitis. The reason behind its called ‘Nipah’.
Nipah Virus infected as many as 265 people then, out of which 40 percent were taken under intensive care due to the infection having spread severely.
As quoted by the WHO, the natural host of the virus are fruit bats of the Pteropodidae Family, Pteropus genus.
Nipah virus was initially discovered when it caused an outbreak of brain fever among pig farmers in Malaysia.
Q: Should I be worried?
A: A little. As Nipah Virus is transmitted from person to person and there is no effective antiviral therapy for this infection.
Q: Who is at high risk? How is Nipah Virus transmitted?
A: The virus can be transferred through infected bats, pigs or humans who have been infected. In 2004, humans who consumed the date palm sap infected by fruit bats caught the virus as well. The people at high risks are:
- People working with pigs and consuming pigs.
- Farmers who come in contact with bats.
- Consuming Fruits which are already bitten by a bat.
- Contact with people who already have NiV infection.
Q: What are the early symptoms of Nipah Virus?
A: Nipah Virus is usually associated with inflammation of the brain due to which severe days of fever can often lead to a state of confusion, disorientation and even persistent drowsiness.
If not taken care of, these symptoms can even cause a coma in a span of 24-48 hours. There are many patients who show neurological, respiratory and pulmonary signs as well.
Therefore, do not ignore any such signs. The initial presentation is non-specific, characterized by
- the sudden onset of fever,
- a headache,
- muscle pain,
- nausea and vomiting,
- Neck rigidity and
- photophobia are also seen.
The disease rapidly progresses, with deterioration in consciousness leading to coma.
Q: How is it diagnosed?
A: The diagnosis is by ELISA which is currently done at National Institute of Virology, Pune.
Q: How is Nipah Virus treated?
A: As of now, there is no particular vaccine available purely for the treatment of Nipah Virus. The only way to treat this virus is through intensive supportive care.
Supportive care is the mainstay of treatment and infected patients may require intensive care monitoring.
Q: How do I prevent from Nipah Virus?
A: Since drinking raw date palm sap bitten by a bat can also cause NiV, it is safe to say that you should stay from consuming date palm for some time.
Hospitals also need to raise awareness about symptoms and transmission to avoid human-to-human infections in such settings. Awareness among people is required like:
- Avoid contact with pigs and pig handlers.
- Maintain personal hygiene and intensive hand washing practices
- Avoid consuming raw fruits, Consume only well cooked, clean, homemade food till the outbreak settles down.
- Preferably use an N95 mask while traveling or working in public places to avoid person to person transmission.
- Be aware of the symptoms and report to the doctor immediately for early diagnosis and treatment.
!! No Approved Specific Therapy For This Infection, Prevention Is The Only Cure !!