Nipah Virus (NiV) – Details

As a zoonotic virus, the Nipah virus (NiV) can spread from animals and people. Fruit bats, often known as flying foxes, are the animals that naturally harbour NiV. Pigs and humans have both been reported to become ill with the Nipah virus.

Table of Contents
1. Origin
2. Transmission/Spread
3. Symptoms
4. Treatment
5. Preventive Measures

Nipah virus, a very severe menace in the field of newly developing infectious diseases. This zoonotic virus, which was named after the Malaysian town of Sungai Nipah where it was initially discovered in 1999, has the capacity to lead to catastrophic illness epidemics in both people and animals.

As a zoonotic virus, the Nipah virus (NiV) can spread from animals and people. Fruit bats, often known as flying foxes, are the animals that naturally harbor NiV. Pigs and humans have both been reported to become ill with the Nipah virus.

Nipah virus infection is linked to encephalitis, or brain swelling, and can result in mild to severe disease or even death. In several regions of Asia, mainly Bangladesh and India, outbreaks happen in certain intervals.

“Nipah virus infection can be prevented by avoiding exposure to sick pigs and bats in areas where the virus is present, and not drinking raw date palm sap which can be contaminated by an infected bat. During an outbreak, standard infection control practices can help prevent person-to-person spread in hospital settings.”

CDC

Origin

The Nipah virus comes under the family Paramyxoviridae and this family also includes other viruses such as measles and mumps. It is classified under the Henipavirus genus, alongside the closely related Hendra virus.

The Nipah and Hendra viruses may infect a variety of species, acting as reservoir hosts, and are thought to have originated in fruit bats (flying foxes).

The illness can be transmitted from infected fruit bats to humans or other animals, including pigs. If a person comes into touch with an infected animal or its bodily fluids, they risk contracting the disease.

Transmission/Spread

NiV can be spread to humans from

  1. Direct contact with infected animals including their body fluids like blood, urine and saliva.
  2. Food materials including fruits spoiled by the infected animals.
  3. Spreading from an infected person to other persons from body fluids like blood, nasal fluids, or blood.

Symptoms

  1. Headache
  2. Vomiting
  3. Fever
  4. Cough
  5. Sore throat
  6. Breathing Difficulty

Later Symptoms

  1. Encephalitis
  2. Seizures
  3. Coma

Treatment

Currently, there are no licensed treatments available for Nipah virus (NiV) infection. Treatment is limited to supportive care, including rest, hydration, and treatment of symptoms as they occur. 1

Preventive Measures

Nipah virus epidemics must be stopped using a multifaceted strategy. Restricting access to infectious animals, contaminated livestock is monitored, and public awareness programmes are run to encourage safe eating practices.

For early diagnosis and control, ongoing monitoring of the Nipah virus in animal populations, especially fruit bats, is essential. To more effectively plan for and contain future epidemics, scientific study on the virus’s biology, transmission dynamics, and possible therapies is crucial.

References:

  1. Centres for Disease Control Prevention: “Nipah Virus (NiV).” Centers for Disease Control Prevention, 19 Oct. 2022, www.cdc.gov/vhf/nipah/index.html. Accessed 12 Sept. 2023.
  2. Baron, Samuel. Medical Microbiology. 4th Edition. 4th ed., University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, 1996, ISBN-10: 0-9631172-1-1.

Edited by: Achuth B S, Neethu Krishna

Published: 12-September-2023

Updated:

Editor's Desk

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