KOMPAS.com – The Nipah virus has claimed the lives of two residents in the state of Kerala, India. Three other people have tested positive for this virus.
Quoted by Reuters (9/12/2023), an official from India’s National Institute of Virology said one person died this month and one person died at the end of August 2023.
This disease has broken out for the fourth time in Kerala since 2018. At that time, 21 of the 23 people infected with this virus died. In addition, in 2019 and 2021, this virus also caused two other deaths.
To increase awareness about this infectious disease, know what nipah virus is, symptoms and dangers you need to be aware of.
What is Nipah virus?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nipah virus is a type of zoonotic virus or germ that can be transmitted from animals to humans, or transmitted through contaminated food or directly between humans.
The origins of this virus were first identified in 1999, when an outbreak hit pig farmers in Malaysia and Singapore.
Furthermore, this virus attacked a number of residents of Bangladesh in 2001. Since then, this epidemic has affected the country almost every year and has been identified in India, located close to this country.
The animal hosts or carriers of the nipah virus are mainly pteropus bats and several other species of bats. Hosts carrying nipah have been identified in a number of countries, including Cambodia, Ghana, Indonesia, Madagascar, the Philippines and Thailand.
Symptoms of Nipah Virus
A person positively infected with Nipah virus will experience various symptoms. According to the Ministry of Health, here are some of the symptoms of Nipah virus that may appear, including:
- Muscle aches
- To vomit
- Sore throat
- Falls asleep easily
- Decreased consciousness and other neurological signs indicating encephalitis or brain swelling
- Shortness of breath in cases of nipah virus infection who suffer from atopic pneumonia and severe respiratory problems.
In case of severe Nipah virus infection, affected people may suffer brain disorders, seizures and fall into a coma in the 24 to 48 hours before death.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), symptoms of nipah virus usually appear within 4 to 14 days after exposure to the virus.
This illness is often difficult to detect because the initial symptoms are similar to other viral infections, such as fever and headache for three to 14 days.
Nipah virus infection is a dangerous disease because it can lead to death.
Danger of Nipah virus
The danger of Nipah virus can be identified through its process of easy transmission from one individual to another, so this virus has the potential to become a pandemic.
The wide variety of disease symptoms that can appear and the large number of deaths are also reasons that make the Nipah virus dangerous.
Citing MDPI Journals, as the natural host of the nipas virus, bats are asymptomatic carriers of the disease, but they spread the virus through their saliva, urine, sperm and droppings.
The mode of transmission occurs through contact with excretions or feces of infected animals, consumption of contaminated fruit, or close contact with infected human bodily fluids.
In the Kerala case, the first infected patient is believed to have contracted the nipas virus from an infected fruit bat.
All other patients contracted the disease through nosocomial transmission (an infection that develops and occurs in a hospital setting), so the frequency of person-to-person transmission in Kerala is relatively high.
Apart from this, several studies also show that a person may experience symptoms of this viral infection when consuming meat from animals infected with Nipah virus, especially those that are undercooked.
For your information, to date, no confirmed cases of Nipah virus disease have been reported in Indonesia.
However, several studies or publications have noted the presence of the nipah virus in fruit bats (genus Pteropus) in several countries, including Indonesia, so it is wise to take precautions.
How to prevent Nipah virus transmission
Here are some preventive measures you can take:
- Do not consume sugar palm sap directly from the tree as bats can contaminate the palm sap at night.
- Before consuming fruit, wash and peel the fruit carefully.
- Discard and avoid fruit that shows signs of bat bites
- Avoid contact with livestock (such as pigs, horses) which may be infected with Nipah virus.
- For animal slaughter workers, gloves and personal protective equipment should be used when slaughtering or cutting up animals infected with Nipah virus.
- Consume meat from mature cattle
- Implement a clean and healthy lifestyle
After knowing the explanation of what nipah virus is, its symptoms, dangers and prevention. You should remain vigilant and always maintain cleanliness and safety when interacting with animals that are at risk of being infected with the nipah virus.
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