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Nipah virus: Things you need to know about the deadly virus

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The Kerala state health ministry has confirmed the 3 deaths due to Nipah virus. Nine people have died in Kozhikode due to high fever. Nipah virus (NiV) infection is a newly emerging zoonosis that causes severe disease in both animals and humans. Very little is known about this deadly virus and its presence in the world. In 1998-99, the virus has caused hundreds of death in Malaysia and Singapore.

Here is what is Nipah virus (NiV):

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United States, the Nipah Virus, is a member of the family Paramyxoviridae and was first isolated and identified during the 1999 outbreak of the virus took place in Malaysia. However, at that time, pigs were the intermediate hosts. It has apparently been reported several times in India and caused almost annual outbreaks in Bangladesh. However, it has caught national attention now.
  • Nipah virus is a zoonosis that can cause various diseases to humans as well as animals.
  • According to WHO, the carriers of Nipah virus are fruits bats of the Pteropodidae Family, Pteropus genus.
  • Nipah virus can be transmitted to humans after consumption of food contaminated by bat saliva or urine.
  • The Nipah virus has an incubation period of 7-14 days, after which there is a rapid onset of symptoms, the major one being encephalitis which leads to the swelling of the brain. Doctors currently treating it in Kerala also described fever, sudden breathlessness, low blood pressure, with patients needing to be put on ventilators. The symptoms can also progress to a coma. Some patients even suffer from respiratory illness during the infection. Severe exposure to the virus can even lead to death.
  • The NiV is a zoonotic virus, which means it spreads to humans from either air or through saliva. Doctors are theorising that it is not an airborne disease, but one that spreads through direct contact; either with the bats or through consuming fruit that bats have nibbled on.


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