The Nipah Virus (NiV), a newly emerged and potent danger to the lives of both human and animals is causing threats and great tumults in the medical world. The first incident of the outbreak of this virus was recorded in Malaysia in 1998 where pigs were identified as the main carriers of the virus. The next outbreak of Nipah was recorded in Bangladesh in 2004 and in the recent months and even till the present day this particular virus is now raining its curse in India where it has already taken multiple lives.
How does Nipah Virus spread?
Nipah Virus is basically spread from animals to humans. Although the first carries of the virus are identified as pigs in Malaysia, research proves that the prime carrier of this virus is the fruit bat’s the Pteropodidae Family, Pteropus genus. They are the natural hosts of Nipah Virus. This virus can also spread from human-to-human contact as seen in the case of India where a nurse associated with the patient of Nipah Virus succumbed to the same virus itself.
Apart from human contact, eating partially eaten fruit by bats and partially cooked meat of infected animals can also be a cause of this virus. The most common source of this virus is date plums. So avoiding its intake in any form is advisable.
The symptoms of being affected by a virus as it protects and advances are listed below –
- In the initial period, there are no particular symptoms of being affected by this virus. But with progression symptoms similar to influenza starts to show.
- A sore throat
- A headache
- Muscle pain
- Respiratory infection (mild to severe) which may lead to breathing problems.
- Fatal encephalitis, which means causing inflammation of the brain tissue.
- Altered unconsciousness
- Neurological issues
- In extreme and the worst of cases, seizures and encephalitis occur, which may push the patient to coma within 24-28 hours.
Preventive measures :
- Avoid close and personal contact with affected individuals.
- When in contact with them use gloves and face masks
- Use of masks which outside is also advisable ( wear NH95-grade and higher masks).
- Maintain personal hygiene at all times
- Avoid the intake of fruits partially eaten by animals or partially cooked meat
- Properly washing and peeling the fruits before consuming them is necessary
- Burying the people who succumbed to the virus under medical assistance to prevent further spreading of the same is advisable too.
- Covering the household and open water sources like wells, tanks etc is also beneficial.
Treatment and cure :
At present, there are no proper medicines or vaccines for this virus. Doctors are trying to find it with medicines particular to the symptoms shown by the patients.
The primary treatment includes intensive support care for people suffering from respiratory and neurological problems. The patients are also put in incubation, the length of which can extend from 4-45 days depending on the stage of infection the patient is in.
Although there is no definite cure for the disease yet, scientists are still experimenting to come up with a solution soon. But till then we need to be careful and cautious; after all, prevention is better than cure!
The aftermath of the disease :
Although there are reports of people dying due to this virus, the number is few. Many lucky ones are seen recovering after surviving acute encephalitis. But survivors have also shown long-term neurological conditions like seizure disorder and personality changes. In some other cases, a small number of people are seen to have relapsed or developed delayed onset encephalitis even after being completely cured of the virus previously.