The Nipah virus(NiV) is a highly lethal virus that has had a recent outbreak in Southern India. This virus was first identified in 1999 in parts of Malaysia. This virus has an alarming death rate of 75% and no vaccine or drug has yet been developed to fight the infection.
The symptoms include fever, headache and then drowsiness, disorientation and confusion. It typically takes 14 days for an infection to lead to symptoms. These symptoms then progress into a coma, typically after about 48 hours.
Since no drug has been developed to fight the infection and no vaccine to prevent it, the primary treatment is intensive supportive care. This is based on managing fever and neurological symptoms. Patients are kept hydrated and vomiting and nausea are looked after.
The Nipah virus’ primary hosts are fruit bats(genus- Pteropus). However, it can also spread across many domestic animals, especially pigs, as well as humans. Human to human transmission has also been documented.
Kerala, a South Indian state, has reported 10 deaths due to the disease. Moreover, 2 people’s deaths have been suspected to be caused by the infection.
Since treatment for the infection is limited, we must focus on preventing it. This includes not letting domestic animals to feed on fruit contaminated by fruit bats and date palm . sap. Wearing a gown, cap, mask and gloves can also be useful.
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