KOLKATA: Nipah virus is an RNA virus that is part of the Paramyxovidae family that was first identified as a zoonotic pathogen after an outbreak involving severe respiratory illness in pigs and encephalitic disease in humans in Malaysia and Singapore in 1998 and 1999.
In infected people, Nipah virus causes a range of illnesses from asymptomatic (subclinical) infection to acute respiratory illness and fatal encephalitis.
NiV can also cause severe disease in animals such as pigs, resulting in significant economic losses for farmers.
Nipah virus is closely related to Hendra virus.
Both are members of the genus Henipavirus, a new class of virus in the Paramyxoviridae family.
Although Nipah virus has caused only a few outbreaks, it infects a wide range of animals and causes severe disease and death in people, making it a public health concern.
On May 19 last, a Nipah virus disease (NiV) outbreak was reported from Kozhikode district of Kerala, India.
This is the first NiV outbreak in South India.
As of May 28, there are 14 deaths, 16 confirmed cases and 12 suspected cases.
The two affected districts are Kozhikode and Mallapuram.
A multi-disciplinary team led by the Indian Government's National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) is in Kerala in response to the outbreak.
WHO is providing technical support to the Central Government as needed.
WHO does not recommend the application of any travel or trade restrictions or entry screening related to NiV outbreak.
In West Bengal, one more patient with mysterious fever, suspected to be infected by Nipah virus, was on Tuesday ( May 29) admitted to ID Hospital in Beliaghata here.
The fresh case is reported just a day after two other patients from Murshidabad, feared to be with the deadly infection, were kept in the isolation ward, official sources said.
Twenty-year-old Rajesh Mondal, who returned to his home in Domkol, Murshidabad, nearly after three months from Kerala, had been suffering from high temperature for the past five days, the relatives who took the patient to government owned only such hospital here said.
"We had taken him to Domkol hospital, then to Baharampur and finally here after consultation with the medics there," they said.
Rajesh had been in Kerala as a daily wage labour.
Before Rajesh, two other patients from Murshidad district - Safiqul and Asik were admitted with mysterious fever and have been kept in isolation ward under mosquito net and with masks.
The duo had also returned from Kelara.
The medical tests on the two patients were yet to completed to ascertain the causes of their fever, sources had informed.