Health Issues -> Diseases
Topic : GS Paper 2 - Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
The outbreak of Nipah virus in the state of Kerala has become a national concern. So far, the virus has taken the lives of 10 people. But, the panic is unwanted when one looks into the details.
What is Nipah Virus?
- Nipah Virus (NiV) was first discovered in 1998 in Malaysia. It was named after the area in which it was found - Kampung Sungai Nipah.
- It is found that the natural host for this virus are fruit bats (Pteropodidae Family, Pteropus genus) with pigs being the intermediate hosts.
- The virus infects both the humans and animals alike.
How Does the Virus Infect?
- The virus infects when comes in contact with it directly or through any other material.
- In the present case of Kerala, it was found that consumption of fruits that were bitten by fruit bats has caused human infection.
Reasons Behind Outbreak
- Once infected by the virus, a person can transmit it through human-to-human contact
- This is not the first such outbreak in the world. Malaysia, Bangladesh and Singapore have witnessed Nipah virus outbreaks.
What are the Symptoms?
- The symptoms of the NiV attack include high fever, headache, vomiting, dizziness, severe cough and cold, distress in respiratory functioning, all these leading to coma.
- This is known as Nipah Encephalitis.
- Within 48 hours of the infection, a person can die. This shows the high mortality caused by the virus.
- There is no vaccine for the virus. But with immediate diagnosis and isolation in intensive care unit, the infected person can be saved.
Why Panic Is Not Necessary?
- Being a rare disease, the chance of Nipah virus outbreak throughout the country is not possible.
- Also, only 1% of fruit bats in the world are infected by NiV and these bats do not often human habitats as they like thick forests.
- So far, the outbreaks of Nipah in the world has been restricted to local areas only. Spread of the infection to other areas has not been recorded.
- Nipah is listed in the top ten emerging diseases that can cause major epidemics framed by the World Health Organisation (WHO).