Nipah virus is a virus that is carried out through fruit bats (family Pteropodidae, genus Pteropus). The infection caused by this virus has already made it to the WHO’s blueprint list of priority diseases.
What is Nipah virus (NiV)?
Nipah virus (NiV) is a zoonosis that can affect both humans and animals in severe ways. While in the past, pigs have been a host of this virus, it can be transmitted from human to human contact as well. There is still no cure or vaccine available for the infection caused by this virus. As far as the latest reports are to be believed, it can only be prevented or treated through intensive supportive care.
It gets its name from a village in Malaysia, Kampung Sungai Nipah, where the disease was first identified in 1998. Closely related to the Hendra virus, Nipah virus is caused by an organism called RNA or Ribonucleic acid virus (family Paramyxoviridae, genus Henipavirus).
The main risk factor associated with the Nipah virus include:
- Contact with bats and infected pigs
- Consumption of pigs
- Consumption of fruits bitten by bats
- Contact with people affected by the Nipah virus
There are various symptoms of NiV, these include the following:
- Encephalitis or brain inflammation
- Muscle pain
- Neck rigidity
- Cognitive deterioration
- Respiratory issues
NiV can be diagnosed using various methods including the following:
- Real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR)
- Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA)
- Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay
- Virus isolation by cell culture
Ways to Prevent
Given there is no vaccine available the best way is to prevent this infection. Let us look at some of the tips that can help:
- General awareness of the disease
- Maintaining personal hygiene
- Washing hands before eating
- Using N95 masks when outdoors
- Using gloves and protective clothing while handling animals such as pigs, dogs, etc.
- Avoiding contact with infected pigs and bats
- Avoiding unprotected physical contact with Nipah virus infected people
- Thoroughly cleaning fruits before consumption (palm saps can be easily affected by this fruit virus, so make sure you boil the juice before consumption else avoid it)
The Nipah virus infection can also quickly culminate into a coma within 5-7 days and may prove to be fatal.
So make sure to consult your doctor if you experience any or all of the given symptoms.