NIPAH VIRUS: What should the common man know and do?
History – It was first reported in India, 2001, from Siliguri, WB. It’s the first time it has been isolated in Kerala
It is a virus that is spread from man to man by droplet (respiratory ) infection- like sneezing or coughing, or while coming in contact with body fluids
The natural host is the fruit bat, which bites the date palm fruit, and infects it. When this is consumed by man, it causes the infection.
Another way of transmission is coming in contact with infected pigs, who feed on bat droppings.
Its most prevalent in the months of winter and spring i.e. – December to April; and in tropical areas
What are the symptoms to watch out for?
Sudden onset of – fever/ headache/ cough/ breathing difficulty / body aches/ loose motions
It can cause severe respiratory distress or brain damage, which can become the cause of death
The symptoms may develop after about a week of exposure to the virus
The striking feature of this infection is the rapid deterioration in the patient’s health and rapid progression to severe symptoms like fall in BP/ unconsciousness/ respiratory failure etc
Especially watch out if the person has traveled to Kerala, or has been in contact with someone affected by this viral infection
Rush to a health center immediately if this infection is suspected.
Currently, there is no treatment available for this virus attack, and the person needs supportive therapy in the way of IV fluids/ paracetamol / Oxygen and the like.
Currently, there is no vaccine either for animals or humans.
Avoid travel to the affected region (currently Kozhikode)
Avoid eating raw date palm syrup
Avoid climbing trees, since they are inhabited by bats
Hand hygiene – wash hands with soap and water after coming in contact with an infected person
However, currently, no cases have been reported in Karnataka state
Precautions for healthcare workers :
Wear a mask and glove while handling any patient
Sanitise hands properly after being in contact with any patient
Correct disposal of blood products/ body fluids/ syringes, any other material that has come in contact with the patient