The 10 Latest Facts On Nipah Virus Including Symptoms And Checks: Around, 11 people reportedly, killed by the brain-damaging NIPAH (NiV) virus in Kerala, here’s an explainer of the outburst, causes, symptoms, and treatment:
1) The virus infects both animals and humans (a phenomenon known as zoonosis). This has been joined the list of recent zoonotic outbreaks, like, as the swine flu and bird flu. Fascinatingly, almost 60% of all infections in humans arrived from the animals. This is no surprise that people working in close proximity with animals are particularly vulnerable. Species of fruit bats are the presumed natural reservoirs of the Nipah Virus, via transmission from pigs has also been reported.
2) This virus has earned its scary reputation which kills between 40 to 100% of those affected. The incubation period (time from when the infection happens to symptoms appearing) ranges from 4 to 14 days. The early symptoms are pretty non-specific that can be also confused with those with common colds/general viral infections.
3) The virus affects both the respiratory and neurological systems and in the outbreaks in the Indian subcontinent, the lungs are often affected (75% of the cases). Patients can go through increasing breathlessness that can result in the progress to severe oxygen hunger rapidly. It can also progress to encephalitis – that is an inflammation of the brain – and patients can slip into a coma. Encephalitis has a high rate of death and survivors can have long-term neurological issues like, as a seizure disorder or personality changes.
4) There is no definitive treatment except the supportive care. Supportive care means that the patients can be needed to be closely monitored and may be admitted to hospital. Patients may need respiratory support that is required to be put on the ventilator. There is as yet no vaccine for the Nipah virus.
5) For patients living away from the area of the outbreak – if you have symptoms which are flu-like, such as headaches and fever – which is very akin to have common flu rather than Nipah. For those living in or around the area suspected, vigilance and they need to seek medical advice ASAP. Health professionals working in the outbreak areas can be also sensitized to what to look out for and seeking direct counsel is more advisable than unverified information which is going viral.
6) The portals of the WHO and Centre for disease control are good enough resources (as they have been for this article!), though the information tends to be written for professionals. Also, remember outbreaks tend to be quite cloistered in small areas which can be brought under control with sensible quarantine and treatment protocols.
7) This can arrive as a surprise to many which are not the first outbreak in India. There were two outbreaks in West Bengal in 2001 and 2007 were around 50 people killed. Similar outbreaks have taken place in Bangladesh also.
The mode of transmission is consists of the person-to-person and contact with sick animals. On the other hand, the outbreaks in this part of the world were somehow related to drinking infected raw date palm sap. That said, the human-to-human spread is also famous, and of the cases reported from an outbreak in Siliguri, 75% occurred among hospital staff or visitors.
8) Outbreaks such as NIPAH are likely to become more common, where the population density will make human-animal interactions more likely, increasing the chances of virus cross-infection.
There is an increasingly recognized phenomenon of virus ‘jumping’ species which indicates that the bugs that primarily affected animal or bird species mutate with time and human beings become their new hosts. Swine and avail flu are examples of this phenomenon which is very same kind.
9) Telling people not to panic often tends to make sure that they do. It is, consequently, imperative that facts and advice must be available from trusted sources which are in the clear and simple speak. A robust single portal source of information set up specifically for the particular outbreak can become also a norm.
10) Kerala has announced that the outbreak has been contained. All credit of this relief goes to the hundreds of medical professionals who risk their own lives regarding saving others.
A poignant note written by Nurse Lini who succumbed whilst looking post patients has touched the hearts of thousands. She is a shining example of unassuming dedication and courage which the medical profession should be proud of anyway.