What is Nipah Virus?
Nipah virus (NiV) was first discovered in 1999. This disease came in public when it found in pigs and people in Malaysia and Singapore. Initially report came nearly 300 human cases and more than 100 deaths. That caused substantial economic impact. To control the outbreak more than 1 million pigs were killed.
After that outbreaks of NiV in Malaysia and Singapore since 1999 was decreasing slowly. The impact of Nipah recorded almost annually in some parts of Asia, primarily in India and Bangladesh. The virus has been spreads from person-to-person in these outbreaks. That became major concerns about the potential for NiV to cause a global pandemic.
Nipah (NiV) is a part of the family of Paramyxoviridae, genus Henipavirus. It is also a zoonotic virus, means that spreads between animals and people. The fruit bat hosts reservoir for NiV (genus Pteropus), also known as the flying fox.
Infected fruit bats spread the disease to people or other animals, such as pigs. People can get infection if they come closer to an infected animal. The initial spread from an animal to a person is known as a spillover event. NiV can also occur once it spreads to people, person-to-person spread.
Death recorded in 40%–70% of those infected in documented outbreaks between 1998 and 2018.
Signs and Symptoms
Nipah virus (NiV) infection can cause severe disease. It also causes swelling of the brain and potentially death.
Symptoms typically appear in 4-14 days from the Nipah virus. The illness like fever and headache such as cough, sore throat, and difficulty breathing initially presents as 3-14 days. It often includes signs of respiratory illness. Sometimes brain swelling (encephalitis) may occur. Moreover, symptoms can include drowsiness, disorientation, and mental confusion that may rapidly progress to coma within 24-48 hours.
Following multiple symptoms of Nipah virus may include:
- Sore throat
- Difficulty breathing
Some Severe symptoms of Nipah virus , such as:
- Disorientation, drowsiness, or confusion
- Brain swelling (encephalitis)
Death rate in Nipah infected person is in 40-75%. Report also came that Long-term side effects of NiV infection are persistent convulsions and personality changes.
Transmission of Nipah virus
Nipah virus (NiV) can spread to human body from:
- People can infections if they have direct contact with infected animals, such as bats or pigs, or their blood, urine or saliva.
- Eating food products can be dangerous if that have been contaminated by body fluids of infected animals.
- Close contact with a person who is already infected with NiV or their body fluids.
In the earlier outbreak it came to public that pigs spread Nipah virus. Initially NiV strain came from bats to pigs, with following spread within pig populations. People who were living with infected pigs began falling sick. There was no person-to-person transmission report.
However, person-to-person spread report regularly seen in Bangladesh and India. This is most common symptom we got to see in the families and caretakers. Transmission also occurs from food product organization that have been contaminated by infected animals. Also including consumption of raw date palm sap or fruit that has been contaminated with saliva or urine from infected bats. Some cases also came to public domain that people get infection who climb trees where bats often roost.
- Practice hand washing regularly with soap or any hand sanitizer.
- Be away from sick bats or pigs.
- Keep distance where bats roost.
- Do not eat or drink products that bats or pigs contaminate.
- Maintain distance from the blood or body fluids of any person known to be infected.
Standard infection control practices and proper barrier nursing techniques are important in preventing hospital-acquired infections where a patient suspected to have NiV infection.
Other part of globe may be at risk for NiV outbreaks in the future, where flying foxes live. Those country may be Cambodia, Indonesia, Madagascar, the Philippines, and Thailand. People living in or visiting these areas should take the same precautions.
It will be challenging for scientists, researchers, and communities to continue learning about NiV to prevent further outbreaks.
Broader prevention efforts include:
- Increasing surveillance of animals and people in areas where NiV is existing.
- More study required on the ecology of fruit bats to understand where they live and how they spread the virus to others.
- Assessment of novel technologies to minimize spread of the virus within bat populations.
- Modern tools to detect the virus.
- Spreading awareness about the signs, symptoms, and risk of NiV among populations.
Diagnosis of Nipah is possible during illness or after recovery. Different technologies are available to diagnose NiV infection. Physician can test Through Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR), early stages of the illness. After that testing for antibodies is tested using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).
Due to the non-specific symptoms of the illness early diagnosis of NiV infection could be challenging. However, it is most challenging for doctors to do initial diagnose in order to stop outbreak.