The Kerala government on June 4th confirmed that the 23-year-old student was suffering from Nipah. The confirmation came via National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune.
Later last year, a Nipah virus outbreak in the state had got the whole country worried. But do we really need to panic? Let’s breakdown what we know about it.
What is Nipah Virus or NiV Infection?
The World Health Organisation defines it as an emerging infectious disease that causes severe illness in both animals and humans. The virus gets it’s name from the Malaysian village where it first occurred barely two decades ago in 1998.
The first incident occurred because pigs in Malaysian farms came in contact with fruit bats who had lost their habitat due to deforestation. The NiV naturally occurs in fruit bats of the Pteropus genus.
There are millions of fruit-bats in our ecosystem – they are crucial for our survival and they share a a lot of common diseases with humans... and well, pigs. So, when we destroy their habitat their diseases are more likely to travel to us.
Here’s What You Should Know About It
- The human infection has symptoms like fever, headache, drowsiness, disorientation, mental confusion and coma. There is a high fatality rate which is between 50 to 70 percent.
- Like any other virus, there is no specific treatment for Nipah.
- There is no vaccine available for it; preventive measures, therefore, are the key.
- The epidemic may occur in other parts in future.
- If there is any good news, it is this -human to human transmission doesn’t sustain for long.
- Maintain high level of personal hygiene.
- Report any initial symptoms to the doctor for early diagnosis and treatment.
- In case of an occurrence, isolate the patient and give them full support.
What You Shouldn’t Do
- Avoid consuming pork or drinking date palm sap in the infected areas.
- Avoid exposure to infected pigs and bats.
- Avoid fruits in the infected areas till source of infection is identified.
Health workers have to be particularly careful and follow all precautions.
If you are in the nearby region where the epidemic has occurred, keep your environment clean and spread awareness. It’s important to be wary, but don’t panic, and stay safe.