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High Alert: Nipah virus spreading all over the world rapidly

Posted By: technopediasite

High Alert: Nipah virus spreading all over the world rapidly

NiV was first identified during an outbreak of disease that took place in Kampung Sungai Nipah, Malaysia in 1998. On this occasion, pigs were the intermediate hosts. However, in subsequent NiV outbreaks, there were no intermediate hosts. In Bangladesh in 2004, humans became infected with NiV as a result of consuming date palm sap that had been contaminated by infected fruit bats. Human-to-human transmission has also been documented, including in a hospital setting in India.

Nipah virus (NiV) infection is a newly emerging zoonosis that causes severe disease in both animals and humans. The natural host of the virus are fruit bats of the Pteropodidae Family, Pteropus genus.

What is NiV?

As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), Nipah Virus is a newly emerging zoonosis that causes a severe disease in both animals and humans. This virus was first identified in Malaysia and Singapore in 1998. At that time, it was primarily caused in pigs and through them got transferred to humans. Nipah Virus infected as many as 265 people then, out of which 40 per cent were taken under intensive care due to the infection having spread severely. As quoted by the WHO, the natural host of the virus are fruit bats of the Pteropodidae Family, Pteropus genus.

The virus can be transferred through infected bats, pigs or humans who have been infected. In 2004, humans who consumed the date palm sap infected by fruit bats, caught the virus as well. Humans who were infected by other humans were reported in Bangladesh and India.

Signs and symptoms

Nipah Virus is usually associated with inflammation of the brain due to which severe days of fever can often lead to a state of confusion, disorientation and even persistent drowsiness. If not taken care of, these symptoms can even cause a coma in a span of 24-48 hours. There are many patients who show neurological, respiratory and pulmonary signs as well. Therefore, do not ignore any such signs.

Some common signs and symptoms of NiV are headache, fever, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness and mental issues such as confusion. These symptoms can last up to 7-10 days. Watching out for respiratory illness during the early stages is also a must.

The symptoms may take from four to 14 days to appear after a person gets infected. The early symptoms are not very clear and can easily be confused with that of viral fever and common cold. The virus can kill between 40 per cent to 100 per cent of those infected by it. And you will be surprised to know more than 60 per cent of this infection in humans comes from animals.

How did Kerala (India) handle Nipah virus?

Calicut was ‘ground zero’ for the crisis and the Government Medical College, where I spent many years teaching, was where patients were being contained.

The Nipah virus disease is scary because of high mortality rates, similar to that of the Ebola virus. Add to this the lack of vaccines or definitive treatment and the fact of human to human transmission, and the panic it creates is understandable. The virus has a natural reservoir in fruit-eating bats of the genus Pteropus. Though bats remain healthy despite the virus being shed in their saliva and urine, the same is not the case once it enters some other mammal, who gets sick and may pass on the disease to others.

Twenty two-year-old Sabith in Calicut was the first victim of the disease in Kerala and is presumed to have got it from bats directly or indirectly through another animal.

The early diagnosis of the infection was a feat akin to pulling a rabbit out of a hat.  The medical community of Kerala can be proud that the very second case was diagnosed as Nipah infection. Apart from the slightly unusual symptoms, the death of a close contact with similar symptoms less than two weeks ago was the clue that pointed in the right direction. Nipah was tested for and confirmed promptly. In just over two weeks after the first case becoming ill, the causative agent could be identified. Containment action could now begin.

Kerala's Health Minister KK Shailaja told Al Jazeera on Monday that the state is on an "all-time alert" to prevent the infectious disease - which causes acute respiratory problems or fatal brain swelling among humans - from spreading further.More than 2,000 people are under medical observation in Kerala's Malabar region, uncertain whether they have been infected with the disease.

Raised Alarm

The outbreak of the disease and risk of its spread have raised alarms among the people in four most-affected districts of Malabar region of the state.Dr Ajaz Ali, a surgeon at Koyilandy Taluk hospital in Kozhikode district, said that since the news of the disease broke out, many patients have refrained from coming to the hospital."There were more than 1,200 people coming here every day, and now it has reduced to below 200. All are afraid of crowds due to the Nipah risk.Isolation wards for patients infected with Nipah have been set up at the Kozhikode Medical College Hospital.The disease has also forced state authorities to close schools and colleges and postpone exams in Malabar.District authorities have also asked people to keep away from crowded areas as a precautionary measure. District courts in some areas have also temporarily suspended operations.

Businesses affected

The disease outbreak has affected the livelihood of people as businesses have shut down. Sales in restaurants and shops selling produce, meat and fish have fallen in the past few weeks."Bus stands are empty. People are avoiding travel. They are remaining at home and using protective masks while travelling," said Rajeev, a bus conductor from Kozhikode district.The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar have banned imports of fresh and frozen vegetables and fruits from Kerala. The ban will continue until the outbreak is controlled.Bahrain and Qatar have also urged their nationals and residents to avoid travelling to Kerala until the epidemic is under control.An estimated 1.6 million migrants from Kerala form the majority of the Indian community in the UAE, Qatar and Bahrain.

Saudi Arabia & all Gulf countries ban on vegetable & fruits (All type of FOODS) from Kerala due to NIPAH Virus.High Alert:  Nipah virus spreading all over the world rapidly.Be careful from the Indian foods.

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