Nipah virus: an outbreak whose Only treatment as of today (01/June/2018) is advised to be prevention as currently there is no vaccine for Nipah virus. Nipah virus, named after the village of Sungai Nipah in Malaysia, was first identified in 1999 when 265 people became ill and 105 of them died. During outbreaks of disease in pigs in Malaysia, the spread of infection was readily controlled by a variety of measures, including quarantining infected premises, controlling animal movements, culling pigs, burying or incinerating infected carcasses, and decontaminating.
The advice which is being given by doctors are:
1. Do not eat fruits bitten by birds and animals
2.Wear masks and gloves while tending to patients
3. Wash hands properly with disinfectant after contacting infected people
4. Don’t drink or eat from regions where bats are found in large numbers.
The Symptoms of the virus includes:
1. Fever, headache, vomiting and fainting.
2. Some patients have shown symptoms of epilepsy.
3. Drowsiness, mental confusion and respiratory problems are also few signs by which the possibility of being infected by Nipah virus is predicted.
The infected person may fall into a coma within 48 hours after showing severe symptoms such as acute respiratory syndrome.
The most severe and important complication of Nipah virus infection is Encephalitis, which is associated with a high mortality rate. Encephalitis causes an inflammation of the brain and it is lethal. Nipah virus was first isolated from cerebrospinal fluid specimens collected from encephalitis patients in Malaysia in 1999. It had then caused subsequent outbreaks in Bangladesh from 2001 to 2004, and the neighbouring West Bengal State of India in 2001.
Nipah virus is classed as an airborne high consequence infectious disease. The natural reservoir for Nipah virus is ‘flying fox’ fruit bats with both virus detection and serological evidence for infection. The natural habitat for Nipah-carrying fruit bats (or Pteropus bats) is tropical forests. As these forests have been converted into agricultural lands, the bats have sought out other sources of food. In Bangladesh, the virus moves from bats to people because the bats are licking fresh date palm sap and so passing their saliva which is occasionally infected with Nipah virus. A people who consume such fruits fall prey to the deadly infection. The incubation period is thought usually to be 4 to 14 days, although some further study has suggested a period as long as 45 days.
Nipah virus is a Zoonotic pathogen of the family Paramyxoviridae causing the fatal respiratory and neurologic disease in both humans and animals. Nipah virus is an enveloped negative-strand RNA paramyxovirus (Genus: Henipavirus and Family: Paramyxoviridae). Morphologic, serologic, and genetic studies indicated that the virus was closely related to Hendra virus isolated in 1994 in Australia, and both viruses (non-segmented, negative-stranded RNA viruses) form the new Henipavirus genus within the Paramyxoviridae family.
Till now, Nipah virus infection has been found in 23 species of bats from 10 genera in regions of India, Yunan and Hainan Island in China, Ghana in West Africa, Cambodia, Madagascar and Thailand.
The virus is excreted in bat urine. In the original Malaysian outbreak, pigs became infected through eating fruit which had been contaminated by bats or directly from bat urine. The virus was excreted in pig urine, saliva and respiratory secretions, which is how humans mainly the pig farmers, their families and workers become infected with the disease.
The drug Ribavirin found in Malaysia had shown to be effective against the viruses in vitro(studies performed in Laboratory) but its clinical usefulness is uncertain. This leaves prevention as the only option as the virus still doesn’t transmit efficiently between people but through mutation, it may in future. Thus to prevent it for a wider outbreak, do follow the Do’s and Don’t as mentions by the doctors.
“Saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth… these are one and the same fight. We must connect the dots between climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, global health, food security and women’s empowerment. Solutions to one problem must be solutions for all”– Ban Ki-moon