Eight mysterious deaths due to some anonymous viral attack in Kerala have put the state on high alert. Three out of them were reported to be caused due to Nipah Virus (NiV), according to the National Institute of Virology, Pune. The Health Secretary of the state, Rajiv Sadanandan has assured that the government is taking every indispensable step required for decreasing any further mortalities and also that the people should not be anxious about the viral attack.
Although the government is taking the necessary measures to combat the current situation in Kerala, one must be aware about this unheard virus to prevent from getting infected. Take a look below to know what the virus is all about.
What is NiV?
First spotted in 1998 in Singapore and Malaysia, the Nipah Virus primarily caused a severe disease in pigs and was transferred to humans from them. Around 265 people were infected out of which 105 people died and the rest suffered from some of the other types of respiratory illness. The zoonotic (a virus transmitted to humans from animals) this time has been reported in the Kozhikode district of Kerala, causing the death of 12 people that included a 31-year-old nurse who was taking care of the infected patients.
As WHO quoted, the Nipah Virus is an RNA virus of the Paramyxoviridae family. Initially, it was identified as a pathogen in pigs (mainly) in 1998, but being the natural host of the virus, fruit bats also spread the infection. Humans who ate infected fruits like date palm on which the fruit bats primarily feeds on gets infected with the virus. According to experts, Nipah Virus is an airborne transmission infection and can affect those who come in direct contact with contaminated bodies. Till now there is no treatment or vaccine available for either people or animals infected with the virus and only supportive care is given as a key treatment for humans.
Signs and symptoms
Nipah Virus usually causes the inflammation of brain due which ultimately induces a severe fever to those infected. This often brings about a state of confusion, disorientation and even continual drowsiness. These symptoms can even cause a coma if not taken care of within a day or two. Many patients may show neurological, respiratory and pulmonary signs as well.
Headache, fever, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness and mental issues like confusion are the very common signs of NiV infection. One must take immediate medical help in such cases.
Prevention and cure
As of now, there is no particular medication available purely for the treatment of Nipah Virus. Only supportive care is provided to those infected. However, prevention is better than cure right now.
One must stay away from raw date palm sap, and other fruits bitten by bats. Hospitals and medical centers should raise awareness about the symptoms and transmissions about the viral infection, in order to prevent human to human transmissions.
Anyone who feels the symptoms of Nipah Virus must seek for immediate medical attention and get tested thoroughly from a recognized hospital. This step will also help in preventing the virus from spreading.
One must also avoid contact with infected pigs, bats and humans in endemic regions. Even the health practitioners should take preventive measures when treating NiV infected people. They should wear masks and gloves while doing so.