A 23-year-old college student in Kerala has tested positive for Nipah virus, state health minister K K Shylaja said citing a report from the Pune-based National Institute of Virology.
According to the World Health Organisation, Nipah virus or NiV infection a newly emerging infection that affects both animals and humans alike. The hosts of Nipah virus are fruit bats of the Pteropodidae Family, Pteropus genus.
The virus was initially identified in 1998, fairly recent, in Malaysia and pigs were identified as the intermediate host. The virus spread to humans after they came in contact with pig faeces and excretions. The virus gets its name from the village where the first case was detected. The virus also spread to other animals once they came in contact with pigs, including dogs, cats, goats, horses and sheep.
Nipah virus showed up in Bangladesh in 2004, where humans came in contact with the virus because of consuming date palm sap that had been contaminated by infected fruit bats.
In India, Nipah virus was first reported in India’s Siliguri district in 2001. During that time, the severity of the situation came to light as of the 66 detected cases, 45 people lost their lives.
The human to human transmission becomes weak over time and is not sustained for long. The outbreak in Kerala in 2018, was due to fruit bats.
What Are the Nipah Virus Symptoms?
The symptoms of Nipah Virus include fever, headache, drowsiness, disorientation and coma.
Treatment is focused on managing fever and neurological symptoms and offering full support.
How Do We Keep Ourselves Safe
- Fruit bats are almost everywhere around and are crucial to the ecosystem since they kill mosquitoes. There can be an emergence of the virus in other places as well.
- It’s important to recognise the symptoms early on so the patient can be isolated and given proper treatment.
- Precaution is better than cure, follow hygienic practices and eat well.
- For the time being, if you are in the nearby region where the epidemic has occurred, avoid palm tap and pork, keep your environment clean and spread awareness.
- Wear masks and gloves while you are out.
- Do not eat fruits and vegetables, which have been partially eaten by birds and animals.
- Keep your food covered and do not store food items in open pots.
- If you have excessive fatigue and drowsiness along with fever and cough, you should meet a doctor immediately.