Re-emergence of Nipah Virus in India

The third week of May 2018 started with a panic across the entire Kerala state because of the Nipah virus (NiV) outbreak which claimed 11 lives including a nurse who was attending one of the possible NiV infected patients at the local hospital. The family of the nurse decided to cremate her body instead of burying despite being a Christian to stop the spread of the deadly virus. Since then the state government is trying to make all the necessary arrangements to tackle the panic which is widespread across the state. The state government has also released emergency funds to restrict the virus outbreak and a team from National Centre for Disease Control (NCDS) is closely monitoring the outspread of the disease.

 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), NiV infection is a newly emerging zoonosis with 70% mortality rate. Fruit bats are the natural host of NiV which belongs to Pteropodidae family, Pteropus genus. There are also intermediate hosts such as plants and animals consumption of which spreads the disease among humans. The virus can be transmitted by consuming fruits eaten by infected bats and birds. Direct contact with infected bats, pigs and humans also lead to transmission of NiV.

 

The first cases of NiV infections were reported from the state of Perak in West Malaysia in September 1998 which had a major industry of pig farming. This lead to the culling of around 1.1 million pigs to control the outbreak. Later, the outbreak was reported in Bangladesh in almost every year from 2001 to 2013. In India, two outbreaks were reported in the eastern state of West Bengal, in 2001 and 2007 where the disease was contracted by consuming raw date palm sap contaminated by infected fruit bats urine or saliva. Initial studies have shown that NiV was reacting to the antibodies against the Hendra virus, however, later the viral genome was sequenced and showed around 20% difference from the Hendra virus.

 

The incubation time of NiV is 5-14 days and symptoms usually appear 3-14 days of exposure. The major symptoms of the infection are fever, dizziness, headache, and vomiting that often leads to encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and coma. NiV also causes infection in pigs and other domestic animals. As of now, there is no vaccine available to treat NiV infection. Patients are generally treated by intensive supportive care.

 

Various environmentalists have claimed that the NiV was present in the bats for centuries, however, the major concern is that how the infection has been spread only recently. The rapid urbanization, as well as intervention of humans into the bat-inhabited regions, could possibly be one of the reasons of the NiV emergence. During the 2007 outbreak in West Bengal, it was reported by the healthcare workers that the horde of bats was found to be hanging from the trees around the patient’s residence which suggested the transmission of the virus from bats to humans.

 

Since there are limited treatment options, the focus should be on the prevention of NiV infection. People should be cautioned about not to consume the fruits that have fallen on to the fields especially in those areas which are inhabited by bats. Drinking of toddy brewed in open containers near palm trees should be avoided. Domestic animals which can also be carriers of NiV should be kept indoors since they can consume the partially eaten fruits often dropped by fruit bats. Maintain a distance from the patients so as to avoid ingestion of droplets when they cough or sneeze and also avoid sharing of food, bed, and clothes. The recent source of an outbreak in Kerala could be attributed to the bats which had taken shelter in a well of one of the diseased patient. So one should avoid drinking water contaminated by the excrements of pigs and bats. And more importantly, healthcare workers who are in close proximity should wear proper gloves and masks while treating patients with NiV infections.

 

Written by:

Saketh Kapoor is a Graduate student at Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine Centre, Yenepoya (Deemed to be University).

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36 Replies to “Re-emergence of Nipah Virus in India”

  1. Very informative….thanks for the valuable information
    ?

    1. Thank you for appreciating.

  2. Good article summarizing the outbreak of the Nivah virus. Hope to see some preventive steps such as vaccinations taken by the Government to avoid a widespread.

    1. Thank you Rajesh. Developing an anti-viral is challenging but not impossible though, requires lots of funds and various candidate vaccines have developed and tested in animal models but haven’t reached human clinical trials phase.

  3. Raja adnan says: May 22, 2018 at 3:32 pm

    This is outstanding research and in fact made with such a finer scientific approach and definitely light flash for mankind especially our country… I appreciate you saketh kapoor for u super dedication towards applied medico sciences.. Stay blessed

  4. Deepu Nair says: May 22, 2018 at 3:39 pm

    Very informative. Good stuff.

    1. Thank you Deepu Nair.

    1. Thank you Deepeshwar!

  5. dr amit singh says: May 22, 2018 at 3:46 pm

    amazing blog, very knowledgeable

    1. Thank you Dr. Amit!

  6. Sumeet Patiyal says: May 22, 2018 at 4:18 pm

    Explained everything in the great details. Simple and very informative. Great Job Saketh.

  7. Kaurab Singh says: May 22, 2018 at 4:44 pm

    Disseminating information in time is something that really matters. That’s what this article does that too in a lucid manner. Great job!!!

  8. Maheshkumar Kharat says: May 22, 2018 at 4:45 pm

    Nicely done explanation of Nivah virus outbreak. I appreciate your efforts and dedication on this work Saketh.

  9. Khushman Taunk says: May 22, 2018 at 5:02 pm

    Virus outbreaks throughout the world needs complete awareness and informative description about the preventive measures to be adopted about the panic situation. A very well written and informative article I must say. Will sure be providing informative knowledge about the situation to the masses. Good job author…

  10. Quite a comprehensive and informative article on the Nipah virus.

  11. Isha Verma says: May 22, 2018 at 7:14 pm

    Very well-written and informative article. Just a small suggestion. Please mention author details so that readers can directly contact him/her to get further information about the discussed topic.

  12. Concise, informative and well timed. Good work…Saketh

  13. Yashodhar says: May 23, 2018 at 3:55 am

    Good one saketh. I wish you come up with such informative topics in future. All the best

  14. KS Prasad says: May 23, 2018 at 3:58 am

    Informative one for the layman,update it later if you see more information. Good Job.

  15. Very informative and
    Nice article sir.

  16. Dr.Jaikanth C says: May 23, 2018 at 1:02 pm

    Good and informative !!!
    Adding to the note: The signs and symptoms are matching 100% with the traditional system( Siddha medicine ) which claims 64 types of fever . Its falls under ” மூளை காய்ச்சல்” Fever of brain 25 th type of fever. Treatment options are well documented in it …

  17. Sudeshna Tripathy says: May 23, 2018 at 4:38 pm

    Thank you for the blog. It’s well written and nice scientific piece for spreading awareness.

  18. Md Maqbool Naik says: May 24, 2018 at 4:11 am

    Nice article, very informative & useful for taking precautionary measures against the deadly virus. Keep it up !

  19. RANJIT KUMAR CHETRY says: May 26, 2018 at 2:36 am

    Very nice information… Thanks alot

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