Nipah virus Explainer: All you need to know about the deadly viral disease

Here is all you need to know about the viral outbreak that has claimed several lives so far in Kerala.

Published: 22nd May 2018 10:34 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th September 2021 01:13 PM   |  A+A-


Nipah virus: Doctors and nurses at Perambra Taluk Hospital, Kozhikode, Kerala (Express Photo | TP Sooraj)

Online Desk

A high-level meeting of the Health Department has chalked out an action plan for containing the spread of the Nipah virus in Kerala's Kozhikode district which has now claimed another life in form of a 12-year-old who recovered earlier from COVID.

Officials at the meet formulated a general guideline for fever treatment and prevention. It also decided to open a state-level information cell to disseminate information about the virus in a bid to alleviate the concerns of the public. Here is all you need to know about the viral outbreak.


Nipah virus (NiV) infection is a newly emerging zoonotic disease (one which spreads from animals to humans) which spreads by the ingestion of human secretions/fluids. Fruit bats, a common species of the flying mammal abundantly found in India is the host animal for the disease-causing virus.

The flying fox or the Fruit bat (File photo | AFP)


The flying fox bat, which is also called a fruit bat (Pteropus giganteus) is the host animal for the NiV. However, these small mammals live in common roosts and only travel up to a few kilometres for food. So if the outbreak happened in one area, the chances of it becoming widespread are less.


NiV gets transmitted from fruit bats to other organisms mainly through body fluids. The consumption of fruits, berries or flowers bitten by the virus-carrying bats can cause the transmission. It generally reaches human beings through domestic animals which could have either eaten things already sucked by the bats, or got bitten by them. Human to human transmission happens via physical contact. Since disease spreads through the body fluids, so avoid making direct contact with the patient. By-standers should use precautionary measures such as masks.



According to World Health Organisation (WHO), Nipah can cause asymptomatic infection to the acute respiratory syndrome and fatal encephalitis in human beings. The infection posses a dreadful mortality rate of 70 per cent. NiV can cause "Encephalitis"- an acute inflammation of the brain that can cause death in human beings. Unfortunately, no vaccination has been discovered yet to prevent the virus, and patients are generally given intensive care treatment. However, people with good immunity have lesser chances of getting infected.


NiV was first identified during an outbreak of disease that took place in Kampung Sungai Nipah, Malaysia in 1998, with pigs as the intermediate hosts. Around 100 among the 300 infected succumbed to the disease.

17 people had lost their lives following an outbreak in Kozhikode's Perambra in May, 2018.

Wear masks and gloves while attending patients (Express Photo)

The only other reported case of Nipah in India was from Siliguri in West Bengal way back in January 2001. The outbreak resulted in the death of 45 among the 66 infected.


  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Fainting
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Epilepsy
  • Some patients may slip into a coma within two days after the initial symptoms 


  • Avoid the consumption of fruits bitten by bats and other animals. It is advisable not to harvest fruits which might seem fallen naturally from a tree in your premise although it looks untouched by any animals.
    Monitor if anybody in your family shows symptoms of flu. (Express Photo)
  • Avoid consumption of toddy collected from areas where fruit bats are found in plenty as the beverage is brewed in open containers.
  • Wear masks and gloves while attending patients and wash hands using anti-bacterial soaps or liquids if you happen to make any physical contact with an infected person.
  • Keep the wells and other water sources closed and clean. Treated water should be used for body sanitization and cleaning. Consume boiled water.
  • Moving patients to other locations could result in the spreading of the virus since it is a transmittable disease. Minimum mobility is hence often advised.
  • Monitor if anybody in your family shows symptoms of flu. Avoid self-treatment and do check with medical professionals. Do not panic as sudden influx of fear could only worsen the situation.


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  • kiran.ero

    " The outbreak resulted in the death of 45 among the 66 infected." ... Every year, there are thousands of people who die of flu and other diseases, and here this news seems, creating panic among people. And wonder why only when this type of viruses occurs in human, all of a sudden the cure for it starts to begin, all of sudden health organizations starts getting busy. Why was not there any cure before, when it had killed people before?
    4 years ago reply
    • Raju

      Because researchers are busy finding cure to other diseases which kills many on regular basis.
      4 years ago reply
    • Sak

      People like you will always have problems. WHy are you upset that the action is finally being taken? If nothing happened before you want nothing to happen now also? People like you have issues when someone does something and even when someone when someone doesnt do something
      4 years ago reply
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