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What is the Nipah Virus (NiV)?

Two days ago Indian state of Kerala reported mysterious deaths of eight people because of an unidentified viral attack, and since this outbreak the state is on high alert. Out of all the deaths, three were reported to be caused by Nipah Virus (NiV), as per the National Institute of Virology, Pune. The Nipah (NiV) has been unheard by people is yet to be understood by many. Here is what the virus is all about.

What is the Nipah Virus (NiV)? 
Two days ago Indian state of Kerala reported mysterious deaths of eight people because of an unidentified viral attack, and since this outbreak the state is on high alert. Out of all the deaths, three were reported to be caused by Nipah Virus (NiV), as per the National Institute of Virology, Pune. 
The Nipah (NiV) has been unheard by people is yet to be understood by many. Here is what the virus is all about. 
Nipah virus (NiV) infection is a newly emerging zoonosis that causes severe disease in both animals and humans. The natural hosts of the virus are fruit bats of the Pteropodidae Family, Pteropus genus. 
NiV was first identified during an outbreak of disease that took place in Kampung Sungai Nipah, Malaysia in 1998. On this occasion, pigs were the intermediate hosts. However, in subsequent NiV outbreaks, there were no intermediate hosts. 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. Human-to-human transmission has also been documented, including in a hospital setting in India. 
NiV infection in humans has a range of clinical presentations, from asymptomatic infection to acute respiratory syndrome and fatal encephalitis. NiV is also capable of causing disease in pigs and other domestic animals. There is no vaccine for either humans or animals. The primary treatment for human cases is intensive supportive care. 
What are the Symptoms? 
Experts say that Nipah Virus is an airborne transmission infection and can affect those who come in direct contact with contaminated bodies. Nipah Virus is usually associated with inflammation of the brain due to which severe days of fever can often lead to a state of confusion, disorientation and even persistent drowsiness. If not taken care of, these symptoms can even cause a coma in a span of 24-48 hours. There are many patients who show neurological, respiratory and pulmonary signs as well. 
Some common signs and symptoms of NiV are headache, fever, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness and mental issues such as confusion. These symptoms can last up to 7-10 days. Watching out for respiratory illness during the early stages is also a must. 
Is there any vaccine for the prevention of NiV? 
As of now, there is no particular vaccine available purely for the treatment of Nipah Virus. The only way to treat this virus is through intensive supportive care. 
Since drinking raw date palm sap bitten by a bat can also cause NiV, it is safe to say that you should stay from consuming date palm for some time. Hospitals also need to raise awareness about symptoms and transmission to avoid human-to-human infections in such settings. Detection is another issue with NiV and anyone who feels the symptoms should get tested thoroughly from a recognized facility. 
Efforts to find the cure! 
Efforts are being made to find the cure for the Nipah virus, Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a global alliance of governments and non-profits, has prompted to step up efforts to find a cure for the deadly disease. The virus has claimed the lives of at least 12 people over the past many days in the western coastal state of Kerala, sparking global concerns as the World Health Organization (WHO) has listed the Nipah infection as a public health risk with epidemic potential. 
On May 24, CEPI said it would grant up to $25 million over the next five years to US pharma firms Profectus BioSciences and Emergent BioSolutions to advance the development of a vaccine against the viral infection, which has proved to be fatal in 70% of cases.   
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Sandeep Semwal
Content Writer
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