The south-Indian state of Kerala is threatened by a new virus identified as ‘Nipah virus’ which is a cause of presently 3 deaths of the same family in Kerala’s Kozhikode.
A state-wide alert has been issued by the Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and 24-hour monitoring system has been set up. However, there are some important things to know about the Nipah virus to avoid any further loss.
Nipah virus was first identified in 1998 in Malaysia by fruit-eating bats especially from Pteropodidae family and comes with a range of symptoms. Later on, in 2004 it was spread in Bangladesh acclaiming many lives. The Nipah virus infection can occur in both humans or animals. The first case in India was seen in 2001 in West Bengal and that too was spread due to fruit bats.
According to the report by the Indian Journal of Virology, Nipah virus can be caused with the direct contact with the infected animals like pigs, contaminated fruits or half-eaten fruits by the fruit bats. However, direct contact with the sick persons can also inject the virus in the body.
Nipah virus can be incubated within 5 to 14 days with symbols visible like head ache, fever, fainting and nausea. In the extreme case, choking, stomach pain, vomiting, fatigue and even blurred vision could also be there.
In order to be safe from Nipah virus, make sure to avoid contaminated fruit or any kind of food eaten by the bats. Avoid drinking toddy from the open containers near the palm trees.
The most important measures to be taken care is avoid direct contact with those who are already infected by Nipah virus and in case of any unfortunate death, try to cover the face of the dead body. Utmost care should be taken by the relatives of the kin to maintain a distance even while bathing the dead body before burial or cremation.
As per the WHO, there is no vaccines available for Nipah virus yet and the main treatment for that is the ‘intensive supportive care’.