All you need to know about Nipah virus

What is the News?

A 12-year-old boy infected with the Nipah virus died in a private hospital in Kozhikode, Kerala.

About Nipah Virus

Nipah Virus(NiV) is a zoonotic virus. ​​The first outbreaks of the Nipah virus among humans was reported from Malaysia (1998) and Singapore (1999). 

Host Reservoir of Nipah Virus

The animal host reservoir for this virus is known to be the fruit bat, commonly known as flying fox. Fruit bats are known to transmit this virus to other animals like pigs, and also dogs, cats, goats, horses and sheep.

How does it spread?

It is a zoonotic virus, meaning it has been transmitted from animals to human beings. 

The transmission happens mainly through direct contact with these animals or through the consumption of food contaminated by the saliva or urine of these infected animals.

Person-to-person transmission is not fully established yet.

Symptoms of Nipah Virus infection

Fever, respiratory symptoms including cough, sore throat, aches, fatigue and encephalitis. The death rate for Nipah virus is 70%.

Treatment for Nipah Virus infection

There is no vaccine against Nipah virus. The only available treatment is supportive cough care. Ribavirin, an antiviral drug, was used to treat encephalitis in 2018. 

Suggestions to control Nipah Virus

Creation of Vaccines: The vaccine for Nipah can be made by making small tweaks to the Corona Virus vaccines. This can reduce the cost of developing new vaccines. This is an important development as this technique can be used to develop vaccines for tropical or neglected tropical diseases.

Surveillance database: For better coordination and health outputs, there is need to coordinate the treatment methods and health surveillance of people. This can also be used to create a surveillance database for animals. For this, Government should adopt the “One Health Policy” approach.

Research: States should open labs for proper research of animals. Government should also set up Bio-safely high-security labs to do the test and research in a respective state itself

As Nipah is restricted to Kerala itself, experts suggested implementing Kerala Public Health Act.

Source: This post is based on the article “All you need to know about Nipah virus” published in TOI on 6th September 2021.

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