Nipah Virus outbreak in India

Nipah Virus outbreak in India

The Indian state of Kerala faced an outbreak of Nipah virus and around seventeen people have died. Prompt actions from the state and central agencies have contained the outbreak of the virus. As of June 4, the state health department had declared that apart from the 18 positive cases, no new cases were reported.

What is Nipah Virus?

Nipah virus (NiV) is an emerging zoonotic virus (a virus transmitted to humans from animals). Nipah virus causes NiV. The Nipah virus infection is moderately contagious as it needs close observation and mostly infects the family members and/or medical caretakers of NiV-infected individuals.

When it was discovered?

Nipah Virus was first detected in 1998-99 in Malaysia. It was named after Kampung Sungai Nipah, a village in the Malaysia, where it was first discovered. Being an unknown virus, it spread widely and killed around 110 people. Medical experts suspected the infection to be Japanese encephalitis (JE) which, like the Nipah virus, induces brain inflammation. During a medical investigation, the virus, which was traced back to the pigs, led to a large-scale culling of the animals in the areas. Further researches, pointed that the initial transmission from bats to pigs probably occurred, when the pig feed was contaminated with bat excretions. These findings were titled ‘Lessons from the Nipah virus outbreak in Malaysia’, published in The Malaysian Journal of Pathology in 2007. In Bangladesh in 2004, humans became infected with NiV as a result of consuming date palm sap that had been contaminated by infected fruit bats. But, it is not the Kerala, India has already confirmed its first Nipah outbreak in Siliguri, West Bengal, in 2001. Around 45 people were killed due to Nipah. Once again, a second outbreak in Nadia district in 2007 led to the deaths of all the five persons infected.

How it was transmitted?

Researchers believe that Nipah virus was transmitted from flying foxes (mega bats) as they live by eating fruits and surviving in the trees. As the flying fox habitat are destroyed by human activities, these bats get stressed, weak and hungry, their immune system becomes bad, their virus load goes up and a lot of virus spills out in their urine and saliva. As a result, most of the bats often end up being pool for a number of severe infectious diseases, including Ebola, SARS coronavirus, Nipah and Hendra. When it comes to Nipah, disease transmission or the means by which a pathogen can be passed from one organism to another. When person or animal consumes infected fruits and fresh date palm sap contaminated by these bats, they get infected.

Outbreak in Kerala

In May 2008, Nipah virus outbreak occurred in Kerala (India). Fruit bats, pigs and rabbits were the more likely sources of NiV that infected people. Despite finding the disease, Nipah was fast as at least 11 people have died and another 14 people contracted the virus. The National Virology Institute in Pune had confirmed that the deceased were infected with Nipah virus (NiV). This is the first time in Kerala, where a virus, with a high fatality rate and spreads mainly through bats, pigs and other animals.


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