Earlier this month, the southern state of Kerala was in news after doctors in the state discovered that a rather mysterious and a relatively unknown virus had surfaced in the southern coastal region.
Yes, we are talking about the Nipah Virus Infection, a medical condition that is contagious and has baffled several medical experts who continue to work towards eradicating this virus.
But what exactly is the Nipah Virus and why has the infection claimed so many lives despite a robust healthcare system in Kerala?
Nipah Virus Infection can be called as rather new discovery. Infection in human beings was discovered for the first time just 19 years ago in 1999. The first human infection was seen in Malaysian farmers who were in close contact with pigs.
This however is not first outbreak in India, in 2001 Nipah Virus infection claimed 45 lives in West Bengal’s Siliguri Region.
Now, viral infections are pretty common, but makes Nipah Virus so deadly? Just like any viral infection, common symptoms such as headache, fever, muscle pain and nausea are seen initially, but the symptoms can progress to delirium (mental confusion) and ultimately coma or death in a quick span of 2-5 days. The short time span can make it tough for detection and effective treatment of this infection.
Nipah Virus can be detected by a test called as ‘ELISA’ and this is conducted in National Institute of Virology in Pune.
Is there any antidote or vaccine for this vaccine? Sadly, no. There is no vaccination or anti-viral therapy against Nipah. The age old saying of ‘Prevention is better than cure’ holds true for Nipah. Fruit bats are the natural hosts of this infection. Hence fruits and vegetables must be washed thoroughly with water, or boiled before consumption. If possible avoid consumption of raw fruits until the outbreak is contained.
Pigs are also the carriers of this virus, hence it is best to avoid contact with these animals. It is also best to avoid consumption of pig meat.
The infection can be spread if a person comes in contact with a patient, hence maintaining personal hygiene is of utmost importance. Wash your hands regularly and maintain hygiene. Face masks particularly the N95 variant must be used in the areas of outbreak.
Another cause of worry has been the rumours associated with this infection. Always remember self medication is never advised for any medical condition and also always consult a doctor if you notice any symptoms associated with this infection.