Nipah virus has created fear among the Indian people. More than a dozen deaths has been reported from Kerala while at least 40 patient has been quarantinined
Though panic gripped the people due to fear of this virus but rathern then being afraid we should adopt Simple good hygiene practices such as frequent hand washing and cooking food properly before consuming. These simple habits can help you avoid contracting the brain-damaging Nipah virus
The Nipah virus is a zoonotic disease that is naturally transmitted from vertebrate animals to humans, while human-to-human transmission has also been documented.
The Nipah was first found among pigs in Malaysia-
First identified among pig farmers in Malaysia, the disease also surfaced in Siliguri, West Bengal, in 2001 and again in 2007.
The nature of virus-
Historically, the virus had largely remained in a cluster, meaning it was mostly confined to an area, and affected those that came in close contact to the patients, the experts said.
Situation in Kerala-
The latest outbreak in India has so far affected mainly four districts of Kerala — Kozhikode, and its neigbouring districts of Malappuram, Kannur and Wayanad. People in other states do not have much to worry, unless they need to travel to the affected areas, or come in contact with someone who has contracted the virus.
“All the previous such epidemics were reported to be in clusters and historical evidence shows no simultaneous outbreaks,” said officials.
People who come in close contact of the patients are usually the ones who acquire the disease. If that contact group increases or travel to other places, the disease is likely to spread.
How Nipah is transmitted-
Nipah virus can be transmitted by infected pigs, or by fruit bats, through their secretions of saliva, urine or faeces.
The other mode of transmission is human to human, through body secretions and respiratory secretions.
Contracting Nipah causes an upper respiratory infection, leading to fever, body ache, breathlessness and cough.
Depending upon the exposure to the virus, it can also proceed to further complication like Encephalitis — inflammation of the brain. This can result in mental confusions and deteriorate to coma.
“The progression is very severe. While the incubation period is long for some, on an average in 90 per cent of cases, the disease manifests itself within two weeks of exposure to the virus.
“Those infected should be isolated for at least 10-15 days, till the virulence of the virus settles and our immune system also starts fighting.
There is no real treatment but supportive care is given to the affected patients, which means treating the symptoms differently.
For example, people suffering from fever are treated for it, for those with breathlessness support is provided to them with artificial ventilators, and for those with seizures or convulsions anti-epileptic drugs are given as a support to the brain.
Ribavarin — an anti-viral drug is approved by Kerala gov-
The Kerala government has now recommended using Ribavarin — an anti-viral — as a life-saving measure. It is not a proven treatment, but it is approved because of a few studies that have proved the anti-viral’s benefits.
Besides maintaining hygiene, the experts suggested to avoid eating fruits that has any paw marks on it or is contaminated. Food should be properly cooked before consuming.
Restricting mobility to and fro to the affected areas can curtail the virus up to some extent, Chatterjee suggested.
If you are travelling to the infected area, use a general mask. While coughing close your mouth with a handkerchief or cough on your sleeve, wash hands properly, and maintain hygiene.