A handy guide to know all about Nipah virus

Earlier last week, a 23-year-old man in Kerala tested positive for the deadly Nipah virus — a virus classified as a zoonotic disease by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.

Published: 12th June 2019 05:49 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th June 2019 11:29 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Earlier last week, a 23-year-old man in Kerala tested positive for the deadly Nipah virus — a virus classified as a zoonotic disease by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare. In the aftermath of the situation, Tamil Nadu has been on high alert and the state’s Health Department has actively been putting out protocols and precautionary measures in place to address the threat. With emergency guidelines being issued to doctors, CE caught up with Dr K Kolandasamy, director of public health, to know more about the virus, its symptoms, and treatment.

What’s Nipah virus?

  • Human Nipah virus (NiV) infection is an emerging zoonotic disease.

  • It was first recognised in 1999 in an outbreak of 276 reported cases with over 100 deaths in Malaysia.

  • Its name originated from Kampung Sungai Nipah, a village in Malaysian Peninsula.

  • Transmission of Nipah virus to humans may occur due to direct contact with infected fruit bats, infected pigs or person-to-person transmission from NiV infected people.

Who are at the risk of Nipah virus exposure?

  • People having close contact with infected pigs.

  • People who consume raw date palm sap or coconut/palm tree sap contaminated with bat dropping or urine.

  • People who climb trees coated in bat dropping or urine.

  • Consuming fruits contaminated by bat secretion/excretion.

  • Exposure to other Nipah virus-infected individuals.

Symptoms of Nipah virus

  • Three to 14 days of fever and headache, followed by drowsiness, disorientation and mental confusion.

  • Respiratory illness.

  • Persistent convulsions and personality changes.

  • Severe weakness, muscle pain, vomiting, and diarrhoea.

What are the precautionary measures one can take?

  • Wash hands with soap and water after visiting a person infected with the virus.

  • Avoid consuming raw date palm sap or ‘toddy’.

  • Consume fruits only after washing them.

  • Do not eat half-eaten fruits lying on the ground. These fruits could have been eaten by infected animals, especially fruit bats which are the main transmitters of Nipah.

What is the treatment?

  • Symptomatic and supportive care is the mainstay of treatment for Nipah virus.

  • Intensive supportive care is required for treating humans infected by the virus.

  • As it can be transmitted from person-to-person, standard infection control practices and proper barrier nursing techniques — keeping the use of sharps to a minimum, disposing the scalpel and needles in an appropriately designed container, wearing disinfect protective clothing, are important in preventing hospital-acquired infections.

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