All you need to know about Nipah Virus Symptoms and Treatment

Ernakulam: Medical staff seen wearing masks at Ernakulam General Hospital. Kerala Health Minister K.K.Shailaja confirmed that the blood reports of a youth, suspected to be infected by the Nipah virus is positive on June 4, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
WHO says Nipah virus can be a potential epidemic in future. The outbreak of Nipah virus recognized in Bangladesh in 2004 was said to be caused by consuming date palm sap that was exposed to Nipah virus infected fruit bats. Nipah virus outbreaks were noticed in Kerala in India, Bangladesh, Singapore, Malaysia, and eastern Australia. The recent death of three members in the Nipah virus affected family in Kerala made the Kerala State Health Department to put the state on high alert. The nature of Nipah virus has not been ascertained so far.

Symptoms and signs of Nipah virus infection in humans

Human beings infected with Nipah virus can show up asymptomatic infection or acute respiratory infection ranging from mild to severe states in addition to encephalitis that can prove fatal. Some of the symptoms developed by persons infected with Nipah virus include headaches, fevers, muscle pain, sore throat and vomiting. They might also feel drowsiness, altered consciousness, and some neurological conditions like acute encephalitis or brain inflammation. In some affected individuals, Nipah virus can lead to severe kind of respiratory problems and acute respiratory distress.

In some other serious cases of Nipah virus infection, the individuals might experience severe respiratory difficulties, atypical pneumonia, and seizures. Such conditions can also progress to the level of coma within a period of 24 to 48 hours. Convulsions and pulmonary signs can also be noticed in some infected persons.

The incubation period of this virus is found to be between 4 to 14 days and in some cases, this can even drag on for as long as 45 days.

The symptoms of Nipah virus are often confused with Japanese encephalitis. The outbreak of Nipah virus in Malaysia led to the death of more than 50% of the cases infected with Nipah virus.

How to treat Nipah virus

As on date, there are no drugs or vaccines available with us to treat Nipah virus infection. In fact, the WHO has identified Nipah virus as a priority disease for their Research and Development. Severe cases of Nipah virus infections are to be treated to prevent severe respiratory disorders and neurological complications including seizures.

Since the vaccine to treat this deadly virus is absent today, prevention is the best way to stop the infection and spread of Nipah virus. Appropriate detergents must be used for a thorough cleaning of the infected pigs if any instances of Nipah virus outbreak is noted in animals, the farm must be immediately quarantined. In order to reduce the risk of Nipah virus outbreak the WHO suggests culling of infected animals, burial or incineration of the carcasses such steps can minimize the risk of transmission of Nipah virus to people.

Nipha virus Treatment

Treatment of Nipah virus is highly limited. Only supportive care can be given to the infected persons. There is no specific treatment plan available to the medical industry today. Extreme precautions are necessary for the healthcare workers dealing with Nipah virus infected persons and while handling the laboratory samples.
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