Nipah Virus: How it spreads, symptoms and treatment of the infection

29 May, 2018, 07:17 | Author: Colin Gill
  • India steps up hunt for origin of mysterious brain-damaging Nipah virus

A 28-year-old nurse in the southern Indian state of Kerala who died in an outbreak of the deadly Nipah virus has been hailed as a hero after it emerged that she was infected while taking care of an affected family.

With death toll due to Nipah virus (NiV) up to 10, the Kerala government has issued an advise against travelling to four northern districts of Thiruvananthapuram: Kozhikode, Malappuram, Waynad and Kannur.

Nipah is a rare virus spread through fruit bats, which can cause flu-like symptoms and brain damage.

A ministry official said, "There is no need to press the panic button yet". On May 20, Kerala health minister's office got in touch with a team of scientists in the United States to see if drug repositioning is possible to treat Nipah virus.

Earlier, Kerala Governor P. Sathasivam appealed to the people of the state to not to panic over the rumours being circulated about the spread of the virus and requested everyone to follow the advisories issued by the State Health Department. He said the dead bats have been sent to the National Institute of Virology (NIV) for investigation.

The world's second most populous country suffers hundreds of deaths from infectious diseases every year because of weak disease surveillance and infection control systems, leading health experts to worry about the risks of such outbreaks.

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Nipah can be spread by fruit bats, pigs and through human-to-human contact.

Research has shown that human infection is directly or indirectly related to fruit eating bats of the genus Pteropus. "We have directed the CDHOs to remain observant regarding Nipah virus (outbreak) which is so far limited only to two districts of Kerala", Dahiya said.

Who are at high risk of getting infected with Nipah virus? .

There is now no vaccine or treatment to tackle Nipah, which has a mortality rate of around 70 percent.

"It has been made a decision to postpone the reopening of the educational institutions in the districts to June 5 as a precautionary measure to contain the spread of Nipah virus", Shylaja told reporters. NiV was first identified during an outbreak of disease in Kampung Sungai Nipah, Malaysia, in 1998.

When the virus infects human beings, it could range from merely being asymptomatic to also developing acute respiratory syndrome to fatal encephalitis. Most human cases are dealt with through supportive care.

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