The Nipah Outbreak 

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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 Trivia

  • Nipah is listed in the top ten emerging diseases that can cause major epidemics framed by the World Health Organisation (WHO).