Kerala’s health department has been put on high alert after Nipah virus (NiV) claimed 12 lives in the northern region of the state, creating panic among the public. The National Virology Institute in Pune has confirmed that the deceased were infected with the virus. This is the first time the virus, which has high fatality rate and spreads mainly through bats, pigs and other animals, has been detected in the state.
A Central team has been rushed to Kerala to support the state government’s efforts at containing the virus. Meanwhile, the Indian Medical Association has appointed an expert committee to conduct a study on the fever deaths in the district. A district level special task force, headed by Kozhikode district collector, UV Jose has been formed to investigate the deaths due to this rare virus, official sources said.
All What We Need To Know About Nipah Virus
Nipah virus infection is a newly-emerging zoonosis (a disease which can be transmitted to humans from animals) that causes a severe medical condition in both animals and humans. The natural host of the virus is fruit bat of the Pteropodidae Family, Pteropus genus.
The disease spreads through fruit bats or ‘flying foxes’. The virus is present in bat urine and potentially, bat faeces, saliva, and birthing fluids. Furthermore, transmission between farms may be due to fomites – or carrying the virus on clothing, equipment, boots and vehicles.
The human infection is marked by fever, headache, drowsiness, disorientation, mental confusion, coma, and potentially death.
Since there is no vaccine for either humans or animals, the primary treatment for human cases is intensive supportive care
Nipah virus infection can be prevented by avoiding exposure to sick pigs and bats in endemic areas and not drinking raw date palm sap and not consuming fruits that have fallen from trees. Precautions are necessary for hospital workers in charge of taking care of the infected patients when submitting and handling laboratory samples, as well as in slaughterhouses.
NiV was first identified during an outbreak of disease that took place in Kampung Sungai Nipah, Malaysia in 1998. In this instance, pigs were the intermediate hosts. However, in subsequent NiV outbreaks, there were no intermediate hosts. 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. Human-to-human transmission has also been documented, including in a hospital environment in India.
An appeal from Swarajya
At Swarajya, we rely on our readers' support through subscriptions to sustain our media platform. Unlike larger conglomerates, we are unable to relentlessly chase advertising money — our model is largely built on your patronage.
Your support has never been more crucial. We work tirelessly to deliver 10-15 high-quality articles daily, ensuring you receive insightful content from 7 AM to 10 PM.
If you believe India's story has to be articulated in a way it has never been done before without shrugging it off, become a patron (or) subscribe now for ₹̶2̶4̶0̶0̶ ₹1999 and get 12 print issues, unlimited digital access for 1 year, a special India that is Bharat T-shirt (Offer ends soon).
We are counting on you!