NIPAH VIRUS: All you need to know about it
By, Dr. Sonia Lal Gupta, MD, AB (USA) Consultant - Neurology, Metro Hospitals & Heart Institute
to WHO, Nipah Virus infection is the newly emerging Zoonosis, which is a
transferable disease getting transmitted from animals to humans.
Through various researches it has been found that the virus belongs to a
new genus named as Henipavirus (subfamily Paramyxovirinae). The
infection can cause severe diseases to both the animals and human
bats (also known as megabats) of Pteropodidade Family, Pteropus genus
are the natural host of the virus as the virus is present in their body
fluid such as saliva and urine. The epidemic of the disease was
initially reported in the year 1998 in Kampung Sungai Nipah, Malaysia.
Pigs were found to be the intermediate hosts for the spread of this
deadly virus infection. Again in the year 2004, in Bangladesh humans
were infected with the Nipah Virus after eating the date palm sap which
was contaminated by infected fruit bats.
in India, the concern has increased as the death toll is on rise in
Kerala due to the spread of the Nipah Virus. Nipah Virus has high
fatality rate. After the death of ten people in Kerala because of this
infection, all the government and private hospitals are on high alert to
observe the disease and its spread. Nipah Virus has high mortality rate
and at present it is geographically limitedto Kerala.
transmission of Nipah Virus occurs through the direct contact with the
infected pigs, bats or other people infected with the virus. Hence there
are very rare cases of the transmission of infection from human to
Symptoms of Nipah Virus:
symptoms of Nipah Virus are very much similar to that of influenza such
as fever, muscle pain and certain respiratory problems. Inflammation or
swelling in the brain can lead to disorientation. In certain cases
Nipah Virus can lead to Encephalitis. There are times when people have
an asymptomatic infection which can act as a carrier of Nipah virus
without showing any symptom of the disease.
virus can lead to multiple abnormalities, including various small
asymmetric focal lesions in the sub cortical region. It can also lead to
the deep white matter without surrounding edema.
some cases, the symptoms of Nipah Virus include pain in the stomach,
choking, vomiting and blurred vision. There are high chances for a
patient to get into coma a few days after the symptoms begin.
best way to avoid getting infected from this deadly virus is to avoid
drinking toddy brewed in open containers near palm trees (generally
found in coastal regions). It is very important for a healthy person to
maintain a distance from the infected person. Washing hands properly and
sanitizing them regularly will be helpful in keeping the infection at
bay. Maintain hygiene in your surroundings by cleaning your clothes,
utensils and bathroom items such as buckets and mugs separately.
is very important and mandatory to cover up your face properly while
carrying the dead body of the person who has died because of Nipah
Virus. Friends and relatives of the deceased person should try and avoid
hugging and kissing of the dead person. One should take utmost care
while bathing the dead body.
How do doctors diagnose Nipah?
Doctors perform certain tests to detect the presence of Nipah Virus such as:
- Serology- blood tests to see the antibodies
- Histopathology- microscopic study of tissues
- PCR- Polymerase Chain Reaction technique to look for viral DNA
- Virus isolation
Confirmatory tests include:
- Serum Neutralization Test
Virus is classified as a biosecurity level (BSL) 4 agent and the tests
needs to be carried out in the special labs to prevent its spread.
Are there any vaccines for Nipah Virus?
there are no vaccines available for this virus for both human and
animals. People who have been infected with this virus need intensive
care. Infected people need to be hospitalized and isolated. Special care
is required for the prevention of human-to-human transmission. The
prevention of the infection can be done by not consuming fruits which
have fallen off from the trees and not drinking sap of raw date palms