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Nipah Virus The New Menace in Kerala

World Health Organisation describes Nipah Virus as a newsly emerging infectious disease which leads to severe illness in animals and humans. The virus is also called NiV infection and is often deadly. It has engulfed several people in Kerala’s Kozhikode district with panic spreading fast in the state.

The apparent cause of the Nipus Virus are the fruit bats of the Pteropodidae Family, Pteropus genus. The virus finds it roots in Malaysia dating back to as recent as 1998. It had spread in pigs at that time before spreading wings amidst humans who came in contact with pig feces and excretions.

Kerala’s Kozhikode is on high alert as a deadly virus called ‘Nipah’ (NiV) claimed six lives in the state. The fast-spreading virus Nipah reported has a mortality rate of 70 per cent. The central government on Monday sent a multi-disciplinary Central team from the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to the district in the wake of deaths due to Nipah virus outbreak.

What are the symptoms of Nipas Virus?

The symptoms of Nipah are vast and varied. This can range from banal things such as fever, headache and drowsiness and more serious symptoms like mental confusion, disorientation, coma and death. Since the symptoms are quite serious, the management requires focusing on managing fever and neurological symptoms. Often patients are required to be put on full life support.

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What are the roots of the Nipah Virus?

The Nipus virus is said to be caused due to the loss of natural habitats of bats. In fact, Nipah is many of the other viruses which emerge from animals. Ebola is another of such virus which first appeared in gorillas.

What are the Precautions Against Nipah Virus?

Isolating the patient and giving them full support is the first thing to do as this virus is highly infectious. Heath workers need to be fully trained to deal with the epidemic. Maintaining cleanliness in the environment and home premises is very crucial to avoid contact with bats.

Currently, the epidemic shows no sign of being controlled. It even claimed the life of a nurse in Kerala who died while giving care to patients affected with Nipah virus. According to doctors, there are chances that this virus can spread to other parts of the country as humans share a lot of common traits with bats and bats are present everywhere as they are an important part of the ecosystem.

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Atul Gogia, senior consultant, Department of Medicine, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, said: “Nipah virus is just another viral infection that affects the respiratory and central nervous systems with symptoms like drowsiness. Like most other viral infections, Nipah, too, has no treatment and can only be managed through intensive supportive care.” The senior doctor said people living in areas inhabited by bats or wildlife animals should be alert as there can be other infections that can afflict them. While he did not rule out the possibility of an infected person travelling to other parts of the country and spreading the disease, he said there is no threat to other parts of the country, including North India and Delhi.

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