What is the Nipah Virus?
As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), Nipah Virus (NiV) is a newly emerging zoonosis that causes a severe disease in both animals and humans. This virus was first identified in Malaysia and Singapore in 1998. The natural hosts of the virus are fruit bats of the Pteropodidae Family, Pteropus genus. The outbreak of the virus has claimed 14 lives in the state of Kerala in India recently.
How does it spread?
- Human-to-human close contact with people's excretions and secretions.
- Eating partially-eaten fruits by infected fruit-bats
- Eating partially-cooked meat of infected animals like pigs
- Drinking date palm sap or juice
What are its signs and symptoms?
This infection can occur in humans without showing any symptoms. However, it is essential for people to look out for the following symptoms in order to take precautions:
- Influenza-like symptoms.
- Sore throat,
- Vomiting and
- Muscle pain (myalgia)
More serious symptoms may include:
- Interference in breathing(due to respiratory infection)
- Atypical pneumonia
- Fatal encephalitis, which means causing inflammation of the brain tissue.
- Altered consciousness & neurological signs
- Seizures leading to coma within 24-48 hours.
What precautions can be taken?
- Avoid close (unprotected) physical contact with infected people
- Wear NH95-grade and higher masks
- Wash hands regularly with soap.
- Avoid consuming partly eaten fruits or unpasteurized fruit juices
- Avoid being around animals
- Boil freshly collected date palm juice before consuming
- Thoroughly wash and peel fruits before consuming
- Maintain your and children's personal hygiene
- Cover your food properly
- As in any other viral infections, maintain your hydration.