Recently in Asia, cases of Nipah virus returned. The virus is known to be carried by animals such as bats. In India, there have been many victims due to this outbreak of the virus, especially in the Kerala region of South India. Many were so fatal that some patients had to be quarantined to prevent the virus from spreading. What exactly is the virus? Check out the explanation below.
Nipah virus definition
Nipah virus infection (NiV) is a zoonotic that causes several diseases in humans and animals. Usually, it is transmitted from animal to human.
According to the WHO, the ‘host’ of the virus is a bat that eats fruits – derived from the Pteropodidae family.
This viral infection causes a variety of impacts from the usual symptoms such as fever, respiratory infections, even to inflammation of the brain. The virus is contagious and deadly. About 80 percent of cases of this viral infection end in death.
The Origin of Nipah Virus
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Nipah outbreak was first identified in Kampung Sungai Nipah, Malaysia in 1998. The name of the village was then used to name of the new virus. At that time, of the 265 people who contracted Nipah, 105 of them died.
In the case of the Nipah plague in Malaysia, the host or intermediary is a pig. Ninety percent of the 265 cases came from pig breeder environments.
In Bangladesh in 2004, people were infected after consuming date sap that had been contaminated by fruit bats that were first infected with Nipah. Of the 209 cases in Bangladesh, 161 died.
It’s not just this time that India was attacked by Nipah. In 2001, Siliguri district in West Bengal state was attacked by Nipah, followed in 2007 in Nadia district. Out of a total of 71 cases, 50 died.
This latest case in Kerala at the same time shows the process of transmission of Nipah from animals to humans (zoonoosis) and then between humans.
In total, the Nipah outbreak has claimed more than 300 lives in Malaysia, Singapore, Bangladesh and India between 1998 and 2008.
Nipah infection causes inflammation of the brain called encephalitis. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains that Nipah incubation period ranges from 5-14 days, followed by the appearance of diseases between 3-14 days characterized by fever and headache, followed by drowsiness, disorientation and daze feelings.
In the early stages of infection, some sufferers experience respiratory pain and show some signs of nervous and lung disorders until coma within 24-48 hours. These symptoms can subside, but the virus will remain in the body and may one day be active again. At its peak, people acutely infected by the Nipah virus would die in a matter of months or years.
Attempts to solve Nipah’s origins that first attacked Moosa as a family are still being carried out. Examination of animal samples of both bats and other pet livestock studied at the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases, Bhopal, showed negative results.
However, experts at the Department of Health said the results of the examination were still temporary. Health officials will also examine the history of Mohamed Sabith, Moosa’s son who was first infected with Nipah and died.
Sabith returned home after working in Saudi Arabia as a helper, reported by The Hindustan Times.
Nipah Virus Transmission
The spread of Nipah occurs through direct contact with bats, pigs, or humans who have been infected with the virus.
Nipah Virus Symptoms
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says Nipah virus infection is linked to brain inflammation. An infected person will show symptoms of fever and headache between three-14 days after getting exposure to the virus. And the incubation period lasts for up to 14 days.
Overall, its clinical symptoms include
- Dizziness, and
- Vomiting. It is followed
- Easily drowsy,
- Disoriented, and
More than 50% of patients experience brain stem dysfunction and their level of consciousness is reduced. Some patients also have respiratory, neurological, and lung disorders.
Nipah Virus Treatment
To date, no vaccine has been able to fight the Nipah virus, in both humans and animals. The only medical treatment is supportive and intensive care. Infected people are put into quarantine to prevent the spread of the disease. Since the disease can be transmitted from person to person, routine infection control protocols are now in place.