What is Nipah Virus, why it is dengerous
Nipah virus is a paramyxovirus, an RNA virus belonging to the genus Henipavirus which also includes Hendra virus (measles is a distant cousin). It is, according to Dr. Jonathan Epstein, who’s been studying Nipah for 15 years, “the worst disease no one has ever heard of.” It first spilled into humans in 1998, after it caused a massive outbreak in people and pigs in Malaysia which resulted in 265 cases, 105 deaths and the loss of millions of pigs as a result of outbreak control efforts. There is no known treatment for Nipah virus and its symptoms move quickly from headache and drowsiness to coma in a matter of days.
Nipah virus case found in Kerala
On Sunday, a 12-year-old boy died of Nipah virus infection in Kerala’s Kozhikode, prompting the Centre to rush a team from the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to Kerala. Two health workers who came in contact with the boy also contracted the virus, state health minister Veena George confirmed.
The Nipah virus is known to spread from its natural host, such as flying foxes (fruit bats), to animals and humans and can cause serious illness that may result in death.
Symptoms of Nipah virus and how dangerous it is
NiV infections start with fever and headache that lasts for three days of two weeks followed by cough, sore throat and difficulty in breathing. The condition can later progress or major swelling in the brain leading to death.
Symptoms for nipa virus can appear anytime between two days after exposure two weeks On progressing to encephalitis, the patient starts feeling drowsy, disoriented and with mental confusions that can progress to a coma within 1.2 days. About 40 per cent to 75 per cent cases lead to death, says the WHO. In 2018 Kozhikode saw 90 per cent fatality rate after its outbreak.
The side effects from persistent convulsions to change in personality are long term in most cases. According to United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, in some cases symptoms might occur after a month or year of contracting the virus.