The deadly Nipah virus, which broke out in Kerala, is a new emerging zoonosis that causes severe disease in both animals and humans, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Also known as NiV, the Nipah virus is an acute respiratory syndrome and fatal encephalitis which is found in horses, pigs, fruit bats and humans.
The Virus was named after the Malaysian village Kampung Sungai Nipah, where it was first discovered in pigs in 1998. The NiV is related to the Hendra Virus and is caused by an RNA virus of the family Paramyxoviridae, genus Henipavirus.
In 2014, the virus was diagnosed in humans in Bangladesh after they consumed date palm sap that was contaminated by infected fruit bats.
Symptoms of Nipah Virus (NiV)
The primary symptoms of Nipah Virus in humans are similar to influenza such as fever and muscle pain. In Some cases, encephalitis - inflammation of the brain - characterized by fever, headache, drowsiness, disorientation and mental confusion also occur.
Nipah virus disease in pigs is also known as porcine respiratory and neurologic syndrome as well as barking pig syndrome.
How Nipah Virus spreads
According to the WHO, the mode of Nipah virus transmission was infected bats which shed virus in their excretion and secretion such as saliva, urine, semen and excreta. The NiV is highly contagious among pigs and spread by coughing.
Ninety percent of the Nipah Virus infected people in the 1998- 1999 Malaysia outbreaks were pig farmers or had contact with pigs.
Treatment of Nipah Virus
As of now, there was no vaccine for either humans or animals was available for the Nipah Virus. The primary treatment for the humans was intensive supportive care.
The fatality rate in the cases of Nipah Virus is up to 75 per cent.