Nipah Virus – Symptoms, Prevention & Cure
Nipah Virus, gaining a serious concern today in the South East Asia region, is a newly spreading virus that is causing this rare and severe disease, affecting both humans as well as animals. The root cause of this infection is contaminated by disease-ridden fruit bats who are being termed as the natural hosts of Nipah Virus Infection (NIV). Therefore, consumption of fruits that are eaten by infected bats or birds may bring you at a risk of attracting this contaminated disease.
The first Nipah virus was reported in Malaysia when it caused an inflammation and fever in the brain of pig farmers, in the year 1998. Later, in 2001, it was detected in West Bengal, India also. Again in 2004, it spread to Bangladesh and infected many people there due to consumption of date palm sap that was infected by these fruit bats. Doctors, medical experts, and researchers are trying their best to beat this virus. Till now it has affected Malaysia, India, and Bangladesh, but the source has been the same. The scary Nipah Virus is a type of viral borne zoonotic disease in which the viruses and infections of an animal get transmitted to humans. However, it can be transmitted from a human to human as well. The virus affects the brain of a person and the person starts feeling weak and low.
Nipah virus is recently in headlines as it has spread in the Indian state of Kerala and claiming 11 lives. This virus was first reported in Malaysia in 1998. At that time, it was primarily caused in pigs and through them got transferred to humans. The virus reportedly kills 40% of afflicted people.
According to WHO (World health organization), Nipah virus diseases is a newly emerging zoonosis that causes severe disease in both animals and humans. The natural host of the virus is fruit bats of the Pteropodidae Family, Pteropus genus. The virus needs incubation period of 3-14 days. The virus can be transferred through infected bats, pigs humans who have been infected.
Nipah Virus Symptoms:
Experts say that Nipah virus is an airborne transmission infection and can affect those who come in direct contact with contaminated bodies. NiV infection in humans has a range of clinical symptoms, from asymptomatic infection to acute respiratory syndrome and fatal encephalitis. NiV is also capable of causing diseases in pigs and other domestic animals.
It is recommended that each one of us be aware of the symptoms associated with this disease, as listed above. As soon as we feel any type symptom being shown, we need to immediately rush to the nearby doctor so as to avail the best use of early diagnosis and initiate its treatment as early as possible. The disease starts progressing very rapidly and the health starts deteriorating every passing minute. It starts with a sudden fever but soon progresses to unconsciousness and coma.
Nipah virus infects the brain and causes an inflammation or a swelling of the brain. Initially, the infected individual start feeling very weak and lethargic gets fever and headaches, followed by panics and confusions in the mind, and later may even go to coma followed by death within a short span of just around two days or so. The death rate reported by World Health Organization (WHO) is 75%, which is extremely high. It indicates that there are 75% death cases and hardly 25% cure for this virus. Such high is the death rate of this deadly virus infection and disease. The virus can cause coma and take away your life in just two to seven days of the virus infection. The symptoms may last for seven to ten days; however, the symptoms may even lead to Coma within a very short span of hardly 24 to 48 hours.
Nipah Virus Prevention:
- It’s very important to avoid any food and drink which has had the chance to be contaminated by fruit bats. for instance the date palm fruits and sap of date palm trees.
- Take steps to ensure they don’t drop feces on it.
- Do not drink that is brewed in open containers near palm trees.
- It’s also important to maintain distance with an infected person as Nipah is an airborne disease. Extra care should be taken to maintain personal and environmental hygiene by sanitizing and washing hands and clothes after contact with infected person.
- Also use of gloves and masks while in contact with afflicted persons is highly recommended, as Nipah virus is highly contagious.
- Clothes, utensils, and items typically used in the toilet or bathroom, like buckets and mugs, should be cleaned separately and maintained hygienically.
The virus can be spread through direct contact, and particularly transmitted through saliva. It spreads from the fruit bats to animals and raw fruits, through the biting of these infected fruit bats. It may even spread from one animal to another animal or human through fluids. Due to the easy widespread phenomena, the local public is being warned to stay away from consuming raw fruits and date palms.
Supportive care is the only backbone of its treatment. Infected persons require intensive care supervision. There is no specific treatment or remedy for this disease and infection. Therefore, prevention is the best cure for keeping yourself safe and away from the outburst of this massive virus infection. Hospitals and medical authorities need to ensure that they spread the awareness about the symptoms, causes, and preventions of this deadly virus infection.
Not only patients but also the caregivers, the nurses and the doctors are at a serious risk of virus transmission during the process cure. Recently, a 33 years old nurse who was working with an infected diseased was also detected with this same virus during the process of treatments. Both the diseased and the nurse died. So, this has again become a warning sign and a challenge among the medical facilities and treatments. It can take away the lives of the diseased, the respondents, the nurses, the doctors, and anyone. Later, the body of the infected nurse was cremated immediately so as to prevent any further spreading of the virus. Even her family members were not allowed to meet her or pay respect during her cremation. This example has actually made us realize that how much personal risk these medical workers are taking in order to serve their patients.
Nipah Virus Treatment or Cure:
According to WHO, at present, there is research being undertaken to prevent Nipah virus. Hence there are no specific vaccines available Intensive supportive care is provided. Experts suggest that detecting of the disease at its initial stages is crucial for its prevention and cure. The only way to treat this virus is through intensive supportive care.
A detailed post by InfoClinic in Malayalam says that it is critical to cover one’s face while transporting the dead body of anyone who dies after contracting Nipah fever. The post also says that relatives should try to refrain from hugging or kissing the dead person and should take utmost care while bathing the body before cremation or burial.
NiV: The Panic
Nipah virus infections are one of the worst and deadliest disease. It is a fact that Nipah virus is not airborne. It cannot spread without a touch to the diseased. But, if by any means the virus once enters the body, it contaminates the brain and then it becomes very difficult to kill that virus. It may be fatal. Presently, there is a panic going on throughout the state of Kerala due to the outspread of this deadly virus. It is highly recommended that you test yourself as soon as you feel any such symptoms or you come in contact with any infected bats, pigs, or human from the affected regions. Precautions need to be taken by the medical workers for utmost safety of health, hygiene, and contamination.
This virus cannot be transmitted from one person to other like measles or flu gets transmitted. Rather, these viruses can only be transmitted if one gets in touch or comes in contact with the other or the infected person. Presently, Nipah virus cases are only reported from remote areas. However, there are a number of Nipah virus-infected bats that are circulating throughout in the open.
Avoid direct contact with bats, pigs, humans who are infected in particular region should be practiced. If persons attending the afflicted feel uneasy then its advisable for them to get tested thoroughly from a recognized facility. And Health professionals attending to such patients should take precautionary measures, such as wearing masks and gloves.
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