Nipah Virus: Symptoms and Precautions - All You Need To Know

WHO defines Nipah Virus Infection (NIV) as a newly emerging zoonosis, an infection affecting both humans and animals, which causes severe debilitating effects, resulting in death within days. The infection was earlier restricted to the eastern parts of the country, with the last outbreak noted in 2007 in West Bengal, but the recent outbreak in Kerala has been a major cause of concern. NIV has claimed 12 lives so far in Kerala, and many more are under observation for the same. With a fatality rate of over 70% and no vaccination yet to provide immunity, it’s imperative to be aware of the virus and the best preventive measures you can take to avoid infection. People working in close proximity with animals are particularly susceptible to this virus. Species of fruit bats are assumed to be the natural reservoirs of the Nipah Virus, however, pigs too have been recently reported as carriers. Mode of transmission is direct contact with foods, animals, humans infected with the virus. The virus has been noted to affect the respiratory and neurological systems. In the recent outbreak in Kerala, lungs were reported as the most damaged.  Here are some facts you need to know about the infection: 

Symptoms: The incubation period usually ranges from 4 to 14 days. Symptoms of this infection are flu-like. Patients exhibit symptoms like high fever, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. If you live close to an area recognized for the outbreak, it is advisable to keep your medical equipment handy so as to monitor the symptoms effectively. Digital thermometer price is extremely favorable, so get one today to track fever spikes. 

Escalations: Supportive care is the only way to treat this disease; patients need to be admitted to the hospital and need to be closely monitored. They may even need ventilator support. Patients may experience escalating breathlessness, which may rapidly progress to severe oxygen hunger. This leads to the condition of encephalitis – or the inflammation of the brain – which can cause the patient to slip into a coma.

 Precautions: Since the disease spreads through contact with carriers, take note of the following:

  • Do not eat any fruits fallen from trees that exhibit signs of being bitten by an animal. This precaution should be heeded to religiously especially if bats are native to where you live.
  • Domestic animals should be prevented from consuming stray food on roads and pavements.
  • Unpasteurized fruit juices should be avoided.
  • Wear matig gloves and other protective clothing when meeting or treating those diagnosed with the NIV infection.
  • Every vegetable and fruit should be washed, peeled, and cooked thoroughly before eating.
  • Bat droppings, saliva, and urine are just as lethal, so avoid trees or corners known to house bats.
While reports are coming in about the outbreak being contained, it is always better to be on the front foot by staying cautious. Keep yourself and your loved ones safe from this infection.