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