Our world is always encountering one or the other type of infections and viruses, and the latest addition being a virus by the name Nipah. Nipah Virus is a type of emerging infectious disease, which broke out in places such as Malaysia and Singapore in the years of 1998 and 1999. It was first detected in domestic pigs and moved on to spread among several species of domestic animals including dogs, cats, goats, horses, and sheep, among others. The infection, at the time, also, found its way among some several human beings.
What is it actually about?
Nipah Virus, long for NiV, infection is a newly emerging zoonosis that has caused severe disease wave in animals as well as humans. Nipah Virus is an infection which gets its name from the village located in Malaysia. That was where the person from whom the virus was first isolated died from the disease. The organism which causes this Nipah Virus encephalitis is RNA (Ribonucleic Acid Virus) of the family Paramyxoviridae, genus Henipavirus, and is actually closely related to Hendra virus. The virus is primarily present in bat urine as well as bat feces, saliva and birthing fluids. Transmissions were, therefore, presumed to be occurred when pigs, who were the victims of this virus, came in contact with the bats that had lost their habitats due to deforestation.
Nipah Virus was first identified when a sudden outbreak of disease took place in Kampung Sungai Nipah, Malaysia in the year 1998. This 1998 outbreak found pigs as intermediate hosts. However, in subsequent NiV outbreaks there were no intermediate hosts. The outbreaks of Bangalore in 2004 saw humans being infected with NiV – it was because of consuming date palm sap, which was contaminated by infected fruit bats. Human to human transmission has also been researched and documented, also in a hospital setting in India. The virus spreads directly from human to human though close contact with people’s secretions and excretions.
How can you know you have gotten it?
One can get informed that one has caught this virus by observing its symptoms. Typically, the human infection presents as an encephalitic syndrome which is actually marked by fever, headache, drowsiness, disorientation, mental confusion, coma or potentially, death. Some of these mild symptoms can last up to 7 to 10 days’ tops. Nipah Virus is usually associated with inflammation of the brain. This can cause severe days of fever which can often lead to a state of confusion, disorientation and even persistent drowsiness. These symptoms can even change into and cause a coma in a span of 24 to 48 years. It has also been found out that many patients also show some neurological, respiratory as well as some pulmonary signs. It is, therefore, not wise to ignore such signs. Watching out for some kind of respiratory illness during the early stages is necessary for early detection as well.
Because people didn’t know what to expect, up to 50% of clinically apparent human cases died in the first outbreak in Malaysia. Sadly, though, there is no specific treatment for Nipah Virus – the only primarily treatment for humans is of intensive supportive care.
All about treatment and cure!
Even though there is no vaccine made yet enough to cure the infection, preventive measure can be taken to control its spread and the effect on the human on its symptoms.
Drinking raw date palm sap bitten by bats can also cause NiV – therefore it is advised that people should stay away from consuming date palm for some time. Hospitals should make people aware of the signs and symptoms and the process of transmission to avoid human to human infections in such infectious settings. Detection is quite an issue when it comes to NiV and therefore, you have to be extra careful. If you feel that you are feeling symptoms which are likely to be passed off as NiV’s symptoms, then it would be better to get tested thoroughly from a top quality, recognized facility.
The farm animals can be prevented from eating fruits contaminated by the bats, because fruit bats are actually the primary cause of infection. Physical barriers should be put in place so that the bats can be kept out from accessing and contaminating palm sap. Medical officials confirmed that taking basic precautions like washing hands, using a gown, cap mask along with wearing gloves can help a lot. Washing yourself with safe, clean and hygienic water can help a lot too. If you want to keep your child away from this, make sure that you maintain your child’s hygiene along with your own. In case of animals, wire screens can be used to help to prevent contact with bats when animals are raised in open-sided sheds. To beat Nipah, extra precautions are necessary.