Nipah virus (NiV) was first discovered in 1999 following an outbreak of disease in pigs and people in Malaysia and Singapore. There have been no other known outbreaks of NiV in Malaysia and Singapore since 1999, outbreaks have been recorded almost annually in some parts of Asia since then – primarily in Bangladesh and India. The virus has been shown to spread from person to person in these outbreaks, raising concerns about the potential NiV to cause a global pandemic.
Nipah virus (NiV) is a member of the family Paramyxoviridae, genus Henipavirus. It is a zoonotic virus, meaning that it initially spreads between animals and people. The animal host reservoir for NiV is the fruit bat, also known as the flying fox.
Infected fruit bats can spread the disease to people or other animals, such as pigs. People can become infected if they have close contact with an infected animal or its body fluids (such as saliva or urine ) – this initial spread from an animal to a person is known as spillover event.
Sign and Symptoms –
Symptoms typically appear in 4-14 days following exposures the virus. The illness initially presents as 3-14 days of fever.
Initial symptoms –
• Sore throat
• Difficulty breathing
Severe symptoms –
• Disorientation, drowsiness or confusion
• Brain swelling (encephalitis)
Long term side effects in survivors of Nipah virus infection have been noted, including persistent convulsions and personality changes.
Nipah virus (NiV) can be diagnosed during illness on after recovery. Different tests are available to diagnose NiV infection.
• During early stages of the illness, laboratory testing can be conducted using RT-PCR test from throat and nasal swabs, cerebrospinal fluid, urine and blood.
• Later in the course of illness and after recovery, testing for antibodies is conducted using ELISA technique.
Currently there are no licensed treatments available for Nipah virus (NiV) infection. Treatment is limited to supportive care with mechanical ventilation for patients in a deep coma who are unable to maintain airways, including rest, hydration and treatment of symptoms as they occur.
Ribavarin was used in humans during the Nipah outbreak in Malaysia, with equivocal results.
In areas where Nipah virus (NiV) outbreaks have occured –
• Practice handwashing regularly with soap and water
• Avoid contact with sick bats or pigs
• Avoid consumption of raw date palm sap
• Avoid consumption of fruits that may be contaminated by bats
• Avoid contact with the blood or body fluids of any person known obe infected with NiV.
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