Understanding Nipah Virus threat: Causes, transmission, symptoms, treatment and prevention

Image Credits: Photo by Cdc from Pexels

Nipah virus is an RNA virus which belongs to Paramyxoviridae family and genus Henipavirus. It’s a zoonotic virus, which is transferred from animals to human beings and further it can be transferred from human beings to human beings. 

Transmission

The animals chiefly responsible for transferring Nipah virus in human beings are fruit bats (flying fox) and pigs. The transmission of virus executes from: 

  • The close contact with infected fruit bats and pigs or from the body fluids (blood, saliva, urine) of these animals.
  • Human to human disease transfer occurs after coming in close contact with infected individuals or their blood or respiratory droplets, particularly at homes or healthcare facilities.
  • Transmission also takes place when we eat fruits or fruit products, which are infected by the animals.

Symptoms

The primary symptoms associated with Nipah virus appear 4 to 14 days (about 2 weeks) after exposure, with symptoms like: 

  • Fever
  • Respiratory illness like cough, sore throat and difficulty in breathing 
  • Headache 
  • Vomiting 

In severe cases it can affect the Central Nervous System causing

  • Mental confusion
  • Swelling in brain (Encephalitis) 
  • Seizures 
  • Coma 

Apart from that, even after the disease is over, patients may experience long term effects like seizures and mental disorientation. 

Diagnosis 

Primary diagnosis can be done by RT-PCR test. 

Vaccine

Till date there is no approved vaccine available for Nipah virus 

Treatment

There is no specific antiviral drug available for Nipah virus. Treatment is primarily focused on: 

  • Providing supportive care like using ventilators and life support systems. 
  • Symptoms management: The treatment is focused in reducing fever, respiratory discomfort, pain and other symptoms. 
  • Proper rest and hydration with fluids is recommended. 

Prevention

  • Avoid close contact with animals like fruit bats and pigs, which usually can be a reservoir of infection.
  • Avoid eating fruits which can be contaminated by body fluids of infected animals. 
  • Avoid close contact with infected individuals and their body fluids. 
  • In case, if you are exposed to an infected individual, then try to isolate yourself from other individuals to reduce transmission. 
  • Practice good hygiene practice like mask, gloves and handwashing on encountering an infected Indvidual. 

Reference

Nipah Virus (NiV) | CDC

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