Published: Sat, May 26, 2018
Medical | By

What is Nipah virus and how is it transmitted?

What is Nipah virus and how is it transmitted?

At least 10 people have died of Nipah since an outbreak began earlier this month in Kerala, health officials say, and two more people are in critical condition. A large number of medical professionals and health experts deputed by the Centre, the state government, and the private sector are working in Kozhikode and Malappuram by meeting those who are under observation besides carrying out awareness programmes, an official said. Blood, urine, and throat swab of patients suspected to have contracted Nipah virus infection would be collected at the District Hospital and the General Hospital and sent to the Virology Institute at Manipal for testing.

Extending a helping hand to the family of nurse Lini Puthussery, who died after contracting Nipah from her patients, the Kerala government on Wednesday made a decision to give a government job to her husband and Rs 10 lakh each to two of their children.

Former Medical College Professor Dr K P Aravindan has said that the news doing the rounds that Nipah virus is not caused by bats is wrong.

Nipah virus is an emerging infectious disease that first broke out in a Malaysian village in 1999 and was also named after the same village.

Kerala is on high alert over the infection and two control rooms have been opened in Kozhikode.

Gulf News reported that Kerala "is in a state of panic after many cases of the killer Nipah virus were detected".

Nipah virus is a highly contagious disease that is spread by fruit bats.

On Twitter, the Bahraini consulate in Mumbai urged citizens "to be cautious 'til the situation is under control", while the UAE consulate in Kerala advised Emirati nationals to take precautions and follow the instructions of Indian authorities. The natural host of the virus is fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family, Pteropus genus. "We have not undertaken any active screening at airports because we believe that the infection is spreading mainly among lower income groups, and only people travelling by road from Kerala are likely to be carriers", he added. NiV was first identified during an outbreak of disease in Kampung Sungai Nipah, Malaysia, in 1998.

There has not yet been an official statement from Public Health England about travel to Kerala, but the risks to travellers are likely to be extremely low.

The health department also advised people to avoid consuming fruits that are half-eaten by bats or birds. The virus also transmits from humans to humans. Treatment for human cases is management treatment along with intensive supportive care.

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