Source of Nipah Virus Outbreak in Kerala is still not found!!

Gagandeep Rani

Brain-damaging NIPAH (NiV) virus outbreak in Kerala enhances surveillance at healthcare facilities. An incurable virus killed 12 people in southern Kerala and more than 20 are hospitalized.

It was first Identified in Malaysia, in 1998. Curious to know why it is named as Nipah virus. This new virus was first identified in 1998 as the disease-causing agent in the town of Malaysia named Kampung Sungai Nipah. Pigs were the intermediate hosts at that time in Malaysia. In 2004, Bangladesh reported NiV virus infected case when a person consumed contaminated date palm by the infected fruit bats.

Fruit Bats were the suspected source for this deadly virus but India’s apex animal testing laboratory “National Institute of High-Security Animal Diseases” Bhopal report results ruled out fruit bats as a prime cause of this epidemic infection. Blood and serum samples of 21 bats were tested in the Bhopal lab and all were negative.  The Kerala State animal husbandry department also sent samples of local animals like dog, goat, rabbit, and a cat was all were negative. But research is still in continuity as the bats those were tested may be not infected with that virus.

Four members of a family died of the infection in Kerala and initial analysis suspected Fruit bats as the carrier of NiV spread among people but mystery still persists.

Fruit bats are the natural carrier of NiV as they are from the Henipavirus genus of Paramyxoviridae family, from whom the virus spreads to other animals and humans. According to the studies made on NiV behavior on humans, it attacks respiratory system initially before to the brain and the nervous system.

NiV virus infected person requires immediate quarantine(medical isolation) and intensive care as it has the fatality rate of 70%.

No vaccine developed yet to combat Nipah virus. Pune-based Serum Institute of India shared their interest to evaluate a candidate vaccine to combat Nipah virus, only if the government asked for it. It will take around three to four years, the normal drug development and license timeline if considered on fast track.

This virus can cause a global pandemic, alongside Zika and Ebola, according to the WHO.WHO placed this virus on the priority list of emerging diseases.

Foreign countries warned their citizens to avoid unnecessary travel to Kerala and WHO asked other countries to enhance the level of preparedness.

In the state, taxi drivers, private bus, and auto-taxi operators drivers started boycotting the hospital staff or trips to hospital areas. Pigs and other domestic animals

Rs. 5 lakh of a compensation announced by the Kerala government to the victims of Nipah virus. Bangladesh’s west and north-western regions reported NiV outbreaks almost every year and the first case was reported in 2001. With increasing mingling of human and animal ecosystems, the class of diseases like Nipah virus encephalitis naturally transmitted from vertebrate animals to humans and also the other way around.

The Nipah virus is from a class of viruses called paramyxoviruses which affects respiratory ailments. These viruses made of a single strand of RNA within an envelope.

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