Nipah Virus: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

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What is actually Nipah virus? It is the most asked question nowadays. Countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Bangladesh, and India are brutally affected by it, so it is time to look closely at it as to what it is, how it is spreading and from where it originated.

This virus is responsible for brain fever and causes photophobia that is pain in the eyes and head. It was son discovered that the carrier of this virus are actually the Bats and because of urban development and disturbance in the environmental balance the bats and the human proximity had increased due to which the virus infected humans too.

This blog will tell you about its symptoms and how you can prevent yourself from its infection and if somehow it has affected you then how you can get yourself treated.

Nipah Virus Infection: Things You Need to Know

nipah virus

Causes of Nipah virus

Nipah virus goes back to the days of the year 1998 and 1999 where it first originated in Malaysia. That time this virus was found in pigs and once it started spreading it was found even in other animals like horses, dogs, goats etc. and then because of these pet animals it slowly and gradually emerged in human bodies too. The saddest part is that there is no particular treatment for this virus, the only possible solution is intensive care. Now the question arises is that how this virus was found in pigs? The answer is that it first emanated in Bats, from bats this infection spread to the trees and fruits, and then when animals like pig and dog ate those fruits they also got affected by Nipah virus and at the end, through these animals, it finally unfurled in humans. The very first person who was affected by this virus lived in a village named Nipah which is associated in Malaysia and that is how the virus got its name. From Malaysia, this virus escalated to Singapore, Bangladesh and now India too.

Symptoms of Nipah Virus

Nipah Virus (NiV) is a member of the family Paramyxoviridae, genus Henipavirus. Transmission of Nipah virus to humans may occur after direct contact with infected bats, infected pigs, or from other NiV infected people. Infection of this virus is associated with encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). After exposure and an incubation period of 5 to 14 days, there will be illness present within 3 to 14 days which will cause high fever and continuous headache. The person affected by this virus will also feel drowsiness, disorientation and mental confusion.

These signs and symptoms can progress to Coma within twenty-four to forty-eight hours. Some patients have a respiratory illness during the early part of their infections and half of the patients show several neurological signs and pulmonary signs.

In Bangladesh and India, where Nipah virus infection is more frequent, its exposure has been linked to consumption of raw date, palm sap and contact with bats, and most importantly human-to-human transmission has been documented and exposure to other Nipah virus-infected individuals is also a risk factor.

Treatment of Nipah virus

The laboratory diagnosis of a patient with a clinical history of NiV can be made during the acute and convalescent phases of the diseases by using a combination of tests. Virus isolation attempts and real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) from the throat and nasal swabs, cerebrospinal fluid, urine, and blood should be performed in the early stages of the disease. Antibody detection by ELISA (IgG and IgM) can be used later on. In fatal cases, immunohistochemistry on the tissues collected during autopsy may be the only way to confirm a diagnosis.

Treatment is limited to supportive care because Nipah virus encephalitis can be transmitted person-to-person. Standard infection control practices and proper barrier nursing techniques are important in preventing hospital-acquired infections (nosocomial transmission).

The drug Ribavirin has been shown to be effective against the viruses in vitro, but the human investigations till date have been inconclusive and the clinical usefulness of ribavirin remains uncertain.

Prevention against Nipah virus

Nipah virus infection can be prevented by avoiding exposure to sick pigs and bats in endemic areas and not drinking raw date palm sap.

Other ways you can prevent yourself is by taking proper rest and hydrating yourself very well. Eating well is extremely crucial for the body to combat it as, immunity will provide you enough and only thing is that you need to feed your immunity. Make sure you do not consume fruits that are cut in public or have any bite marks on them. Confirm that you maintain basic levels of hygiene and what is extremely necessary is, do not consume pork at all, because if there is an outbreak then it is sure that the pig will be carrying it in much higher levels of concentration.

Additional efforts focused on surveillance and awareness will help prevent future outbreaks. Research is needed to better understand the ecology of bats and Nipah virus and the seasonality of disease within reproductive cycles of bats.

Effects of Nipah virus on Pregnant women

Unlike every other person Nipah virus has an adverse effect on pregnant women too. It is very important for them to take all preventive steps to keep themselves away from this infection. It cannot only harm them but also has an untimely effect on the fetus that is growing inside her womb. It is necessary for them to eat healthy food and avoid junk and street food altogether. For the time being till when this virus is not passing by, it is also advisable for them to not eat non-veg and especially pork. Take bath on a regular basis. And if you experience even the slightest symptom then do visit your doctor and get all the necessary tests done. Also, avoid all kinds of direct contact with the person who is already affected by Nipah virus.

These epidemics are known as outbreak and after the outbreak is over, things will settle down. Till these things are not settling down make sure you take proper preventive steps to protect yourself and loved ones. Don’t get too stressed up and worried as Nipah virus is controllable and it is just an episode. It will pass.

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