A very recently identified Nipah Virus has caused its first case of the outbreak in India. Discovered just about 20 years ago, it has affected Bangladesh the most with 8 cases of the outbreak from 2001 till date. No vaccine has been developed yet but some knowledge about the disease could help you from avoiding the infection.
When Was It Discovered?
The virus was not discovered until 1998 when a massive outbreak occurred in a pig farm in Malaysia. It infected 257 humans and caused the death of 105. About 1 million pigs had to be culled as quarantine measure to the outbreak. The virus had even made its way to Singapore via import workers on the farm resulting in the death of 11 more people.
Where Does It Originate?
Fruit Bats are known to be the natural hosts of the Nipah Virus. It is transmitted to both animals and humans. It is usually transmitted through infected date palm saps to humans who consume them or through infected animals like pigs and goats that are a part of the food chain. Animals presumably get infected by food contaminated by virus-carrying Bat’s saliva or urine.
Signs And Symptoms
The virus primarily causes Neuro and Respiratory problems. The initials symptoms include difficulty in breathing coupled with a severe headache and fever. This progresses into inflammation of the brain resulting in Brain Fever. Almost 75% of the people are terminally infected and the rest have a short time for a chance at recovery.
Current Status In India
The health department in Kerala has recently confirmed the outbreak of the Nipah Virus in the Kozhikode district. The was after the results obtained from the blood tests of 2 infected persons. The government has issued a high alert to monitor and control the spread of the disease. Till now the Virus has claimed 10 lives including a nurse who was treating the patients.
Control Measures Needed
Singapore was able to take quick action learning from Malaysia and control the spread of the virus. This included the ban of import and export of all mammals like pigs, horses, goats etc. and stringent screening of farm workers. Protecting oneself from the infected person’s saliva is the key here. Information is the means to protect yourself and the people around you. Speak to your doctor to understand better how you can keep safe during this time of crisis.