The main treatment for those infected with Nipah virus is "intensive supportive care".
New Delhi: The deadly Nipah virus has killed ten people in northern Kerala and has caused a public health scare. The entire state has been put on alert and the centre is closely monitoring the situation. While little is known about the Nipah virus in India, the disease was first reported in the country in 2001 and again six years later, with the two episodes claiming 50 lives. Both times, the disease was reported in West Bengal. Nipah virus or NiV was first identified in Kampung Sungai Nipah in Malaysia in 1998. In 2004, many were infected in Bangladesh after consuming date palm sap contaminated by infected fruit bats. With every new case, doctors and the medical fraternity are leaning new aspects of the Nipah virus and how it affects humans and animals.
Here is a 5-point explainer from Dr Sameer Gupta, Senior Interventional Cardiologist in New Delhi:
- The fatality has been reported at anywhere between 75 per cent and 100 per cent.
- Nipah virus affects the brain. An infected person will have fever, weakness and lethargy.
- Nipah virus infection is an example of a zoonotic disease, where animal diseases can be transmitted to people. In a zoonotic disease, the chances of a human being getting the disease will be lesser if the animal is given adequate antibiotics.
- There have been cases of human-to-human transmission too. However, it is still being studied whether the transmission happened because everyone was exposed to the same infected person or if the same source passed on the infection to another person.
- The Nipah virus has a tendency to adapt or mutate, like the H1N1 virus. If you get a swine flu or influenza vaccination this year, the effect of the vaccination may not be last through to the next year because the virus would have mutated by then. And that is why such viruses are very deadly. Some of the deadliest diseases in the world are viral-borne diseases.
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