Understanding Nipah virus & public health outcome

Understanding Nipah virus & public health outcome

At least 11 people have died in the southern Indian state of Kerala after they contracted a rare virus carried by bats, sparking concerns the deadly outbreak could spread.

With death toll due to Nipah virus (NiV) up to 10, the Kerala government has issued an advise against travelling to four northern districts of Thiruvananthapuram: Kozhikode, Malappuram, Waynad and Kannur. The Nipa virus is under control, the minister said at a press meet here today.

In neighbouring Malappuram, where three persons have died due to the virus, orders have been issued in four panchayats to stop anganwadi classes for the time being.

Also, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the state government is strictly monitoring the spate and taking steps to put off its further spread.

Symptoms can vary from acute respiratory infection to fatal encephalitis.

A global coalition set up a year ago to fight epidemics has struck a $25 million deal with two USA biotech companies to accelerate work on a vaccine against the brain-damaging Nipah virus that has killed 12 people in India. Fruit bats are the natural host of the virus belonging to Pteropodidae family.

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State National Health Mission Director Keshvendra Kumar, who reviewed the situation in the district, said "ribavirin" - a medicine that has shown to be effective against Nipah virus - has been procured by Kerala Medical Services Corporation Ltd. In Himachal Pradesh, the discovery of more than 18 dead bats from a government school premises created panic.

Nipah virus is an emerging infectious disease that first broke out in a Malaysian village in 1999 and was also named after the same village.

The WHO also states that most people make full recoveries from the disease, but 20 percent of survivors face a lifetime of neurological consequences such as seizures and personality changes.

The outbreak of the disease was first reported in Kampung Sungai Nipah, Malaysia in 1998.

Other neurological symptoms can result in high fever, severe headaches, or seizures. Treatment for human cases is management treatment along with intensive supportive care.

"In the Bangladesh and India outbreaks, consumption of fruits or fruit products (e.g. raw date palm juice) contaminated with urine or saliva from infected fruit bats was the most likely source of infection", the World Health Organization explains.

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