Nipah virus (NiV) infection is a newly emerging zoonosis that causes severe disease in both animals and humans. The natural host of the virus are fruit bats of the Pteropodidae Family, Pteropus genus.
NiV was first identified during an outbreak of disease that took place in Kampung Sungai Nipah, Malaysia in 1998. On this occasion, 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 setting in India.
Presently in news:
Kerala’s Kozhikode is on high alert as a deadly virus called ‘Nipah’ (NiV) claimed six lives in the state. The fast-spreading virus Nipah reported has a mortality rate of 70 per cent. The central government on Monday sent a multi-disciplinary Central team from the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to the district in the wake of deaths due to Nipah virus outbreak.
Kerala Government has assured that all arrangements are on place and there is no need to panic. It also sanctioned an emergency fund of Rs 2 million (Rs 20 lakh) to the Kozhikode Medical College to tackle the fever outbreak.
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Is there a cure ?
The only treatment for Nipah at present is supportive care — putting people with respiratory disease onto ventilators and providing fluids while the body recovers.
How can it be prevented?
As options for treatment are limited, the focus should be on prevention. Strategies include preventing farm animals from eating fruit contaminated by bats and avoiding consumption of contaminated date palm sap. Healthcare workers caring for patients should put in place standard precautions including washing hands. Wearing a gown, mask, cap and gloves is also recommended.