Health Alert

Here’s every­thing you need to know about the Ni­pah Virus, that has hit Ker­ala.


Ker­ala in the grip of Ni­pah virus at­tack

The death of 14 peo­ple due to the Ni­pah Virus in the Kozhikode and Malap­pu­ram dis­tricts in Ker­ala has taken the na­tion by storm. The dis­ease has now spread to Kar­nataka, tak­ing the toll up to 17. We spoke to Dr Amit A Saraf, con­sul­tant physi­cian, Jupiter Hos­pi­tal, Mum­bai, to know the root cause of this deadly virus, its pre­ven­tion, treat­ment and more. What is Ni­pah Virus? It’s a RNA (Ribo Nu­cleic Acid) virus of the Heni­pavirus fam­ily. Its symp­toms are seen within 3-14 days of ex­po­sure to the virus. It was first seen in a

Malaysian vil­lage Kam­pung Sun­gai Ni­pah. Hence, it is named Ni­pah Virus (NiV).

Causes: Peo­ple get in­fected with the virus af­ter com­ing in di­rect ex­po­sure to in­fected fruit bats and pigs. When a fruit bat/ pig eats a fruit and leaves it half-eaten, and if that fruit comes in hu­man con­tact or con­sump­tion, trans­mis­sion of the in­fec­tion can oc­cur. Fruit bats are the most com­mon mam­mals har­bour­ing the in­fec­tion, and their diet con­sists of mostly fruits and veg­eta­bles. Con­sump­tion of raw toddy made from the sap of date palm, or raw sap of fruits, such as date palm fruit, can also cause the trans­mis­sion.

The Dan­gers of NiV: There is no spe­cific age group sus­cep­ti­ble to the at­tack. But peo­ple with low im­mu­nity lev­els like old peo­ple, preg­nant women and can­cer vic­tims are more prone to this in­fec­tion. Since it is a new con­ta­gion to hu­mans, there is presently no im­mu­nity to­wards it. Hence mor­tal­ity is very high among those af­fected by the virus. Hu­man-to-hu­man trans­mis­sion is seen in pa­tients who have res­pi­ra­tory symp­toms only. Oth­er­wise, an­i­mal-to-hu­man trans­mis­sion is com­mon­est and so is trans­mis­sion of virus through fruit/ veg­etable to hu­mans.

The usual symp­toms in­clude fever, headache, drowsi­ness, con­vul­sion and body pain.

Symp­toms: The usual symp­toms in­clude fever, headache, drowsi­ness, con­vul­sion and body pain. In case of res­pi­ra­tory symp­toms, breath­less­ness, cough and chest pain are seen. These are the cases that are more prone to trans­mit in­fec­tions to oth­ers.

Di­ag­no­sis and Treat­ment: His­tory of con­tact with bats/ pigs or con­sump­tion of con­tam­i­nated fruits, along with symp­toms aid in the di­ag­no­sis. Lab­o­ra­tory tests in­clude RT-PCR and IgM of blood and CSF sam­ples. At times, im­muno­his­to­chem­istry of biopsy sam­ples or iso­la­tion of the vi­ral RNA can be di­ag­nos­tic too. Symp­to­matic and sup­port­ive treat­ment is the only treat­ment avail­able.

Pre­ven­tion: Avoid com­ing in con­tact with bats/ pigs. Cooked pork in the right tem­per­a­ture re­duces the risk of trans­mis­sion of the dis­ease. Wash fruits and veg­eta­bles be­fore con­sump­tion, as it helps in get­ting rid of the con­tam­i­na­tion. Do not con­sume raw, dirty and un­cooked food. Hand wash­ing, boost­ing im­mu­nity and early iso­la­tion in sus­pected cases, helps in pre­ven­tion of the trans­mis­sion.

Is it likely to spread? The spread of this deadly virus can be re­duced/ stopped, if it’s de­tected at the ear­li­est stage and ef­fec­tively con­tained.

Wash­fruits veg­eta­bles and be­fore n, con­sump­tio asithelps in­get­ting rid­ofthe ion. con­tam­i­nat

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