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Knowing Nipah Virus

Updated: Apr 24, 2019


First detected in Malaysia in 1998 through a fatal outbreak of neurological and respiratory diseases across pig farms that killed 105 people, with as many as 257 human lives reported to have been impacted by the epidemic. Identified by WHO as a potential epidemic-inducer after the dreaded Ebola breakout, research has since been underway to discover prevention techniques and vaccinations to safeguard human lives from possible future infestation by Nipah Virus or NiV. Specific fruit bats and pigs have been identified as the breeding ground of NiV. Nipah has been identified as an inherently airborne viral infection known to affect humans and animals at large, transmitting only through physical contact with contaminated sources. Symptoms range from a normal cough, headache, shortness of breath and confusion. However, given the rapid progressiveness of the disease, patients soon develop life-threatening complications like encephalitis and lapse into a coma within 24-48 hours. Here's what you need to know about the Nipah virus to stay safe.

A recent outbreak in the Indian state of Kerala that killed 17, had the government exercise Nipah virus alert across the country to enforce precautionary measures. With the researchers still to establish a prevention against this fatal virus, infected people resort to supportive care to alleviate their symptoms. Hospital workers, cattle herders and people in slaughterhouses run the highest risk of bearing NiV infections. As part of Nipah virus alert, social awareness to curb exposure to bats and pigs, extensive sanitisation, and avoiding consumption of fruits that may have been intoxicated by bats have so far proven effective in shielding the community from the clutches of this lethal crisis.

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