Kerala High Alert: All you need to know about the rare Nipah Virus

The State of Kerala is on high alert after a deadly virus is found to spread rapidly in the Kozhikode district. The death toll has quickly risen to 11 people in a matter of half-a-day. The National Centre of Disease Control has gotten involved and a quarantine is being set up as we write. Here is all you need to know about the rare Nipah Virus:

What is Nipah Virus?

Nipah Virus is an infectious disease that broke out in Malaysia and Singapore in 1998 and 1999, through intermediary pig hosts. The natural host of the virus is fruit bats of the Pteropodidae Family, Pteropus genus. In Bangladesh in 2004, humans became infected with NiV as a result of consuming date palm sap that had been contaminated by infected fruit bats. In India, we have documented human-to-human transmission of the disease as well. But, it has been documented only in cases of close physical contact with the affected humans or other animals. 

What are the symptoms of Nipah?

Nipah has an incubation period of 5-14 days, after which it presents itself with fever, acute respiratory syndrome and headache, followed by drowsiness, confusion, disorientation and eventually coma. The virus is potentially fatal. 

Essentially, the Nipah Virus causes encephalitis with a high mortality rate of 75%.

Treatment of Nipah Virus

There is no known treatment for the infection. Primary treatment involves intensive supportive care. 

What are some of the things you should do?

The first thing to do in case of an epidemic is to not panic. Think clearly and use basic safety protocols as follows:

  • If you have not visited the affected area in the last 15-30 days, it is highly unlikely that you have the infection in any form. So, relax and let the experts focus on the right thing
  • If you have been to the affected area, or live there, and are experiencing symptoms that you worry are similar, the most responsible thing to do is to self-isolate and contact the authorities. They would ensure that you receive the right diagnosis and treatment as required.
  • If you have plans to visit the area in the next month or so, it is advisable to cancel/postpone the plans. Entry/exit of new subjects from the area increases the chances of a wider spread.
  • Do not get too physically close to animals in the affected area
  • Do not drink palm sap or eat fruit fallen from a tree in the affected area

If you have any further information that can help our readers to stay safe from the rare Nipah virus, comment below. 



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