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What is Nipah Virus? Prevention, Symptoms, Treatment and everything else you need to know

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As Kerala battles with an increasing number of COVID-19 cases that is creating panic amongst the entire nation, there’s another virus that has been declared a health risk in the state- the Nipah virus. This came after a 12-year-old boy died of the Nipah virus in the Kozhikode district of Kerala early on Sunday morning (September 5).

After the death of the child, a team of experts was rushed to the state to provide adequate medical help and support. As per the state Health Minister Veena George, teams have been formed to handle the situation and there is no need for panic. 

For the unversed, this is not the first time the state has been affected by the Nipah virus. The was an outbreak of the virus in 2018 Kozhikode and Malappuram districts of the state. 17 people had lost their lives and 18 were infected. 

Let’s find out some things about this virus. 

What is the Nipah virus? 

It is a zoonotic virus that spreads from animals to humans just like COVID-19 did. The Nipah originated from fruits bats (flying foxes) to other animals and humans. The spread of such a virus is generally seen in pigs, dogs and horses but if it spreads through humans then it can be deadly. 

This virus was stated as a cause of concern by the World Health Organisation because it infects a range of wild animals and causes severe disease and death in people. “In infected people, it causes a range of illnesses from asymptomatic (subclinical) infection to acute respiratory illness and fatal encephalitis,” said the WHO.

Symptoms of Nipah virus: 

– Brain fever

– Fever with persistent cough and difficulty in breathing

– Acute respiratory infection

– Fever, headache, muscle pain, vomiting, sore throat, dizziness, drowsiness

– Signs indicating encephalitis

According to the guidelines of the WHO, the patients infected with the virus can experience pneumonia and severe cases might see encephalitis and seizures which may lead to come within 24 to 48 hours. The incubation period for this virus can range between 5-14 days and go on up to 45 days.

Nipah virus diagnosis: 

To diagnose the virus, one has to take the real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) from bodily fluids and antibody detection via enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). 

How does Nipah spread amongst humans? 

Close contact with infected pigs, bats or humans can others to infect. The National Centre for Disease Control’s guidelines said, “Bat secretions laden with the virus can infect people during climbing of fruit trees, eating/handling contaminated fallen fruits or consuming raw date palm sap/juice or toddy.”

Dead bodies of those infected might also be one of the causes of the spread to which the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has said, “During this emotional moment, traditional rituals and practices may need to be modified to prevent the exposure of family members to the disease.”

Prevention of Nipah virus: 

– Wash your hands regularly with soap and water

– Avoid consuming raw date palm sap or toddy

– Handling of dead bodies of those who suffered from the virus needs to be done according to the guidelines.

– Consume fruits after washing them properly. 

– Wear gloves and other protective clothing while handling sick animals. 

Treatment of Nipah virus: 

Currently, there is no particular drug designated to treat the Nipah virus. The WHO has advised intensive supportive care for the treatment of severe respiratory and neurologic complications borne out of Nipah infection. “Approximately 20 per cent of patients are left with residual neurological consequences such as seizure disorder and personality changes. A small number of people suffer a relapse or develop delayed onset encephalitis, after showing signs of recovery,” said WHO. 


Courtesy – www.dnaindia.com

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