A total of five Nipah virus cases have been reported in Kerala. Out of these five, two people have died and the other three are undergoing treatment. All educational institutions will remain shut on Thursday and Friday in Kozhikode, Kerala.
What is Nipah virus?
Nipah virus is a zoonotic virus which is transmitted from animals to humans. Contaminated food and direct contact with an infected individual can lead to human-to-human spread. It can also cause illness in pigs.
The virus can cause mild to severe illness and even death in some cases. It was first discovered in 1999 following an outbreak in pigs and people.
Symptoms of Nipah virus
Symptoms of Nipah virus can be classified into three categories:
- Asymptomatic infections
- Acute respiratory infection
- Fatal encephalitis
Initially, infected individuals experience fever, headaches, muscle pain, vomiting and sore throat. After these, the infection causes symptoms like dizziness, drowsiness, neurological issues and altered consciousness.
According to the World Health Organisation, some people can also experience severe respiratory issues and atypical pneumonia. In severe cases, encephalitis and seizures can occur, progressing to coma.
The onset of symptoms can start from 4 to 14 days after getting infected. In some cases, the incubation period can also be as long as 45 days.
Treatment for Nipah virus
As per WHO, currently, there is no vaccine against Nipah virus. There are also no specific drugs that are prescribed for treatment.
Researchers are yet to develop a vaccine for Nipah virus.
Nipah virus prevention
During an outbreak, individuals should follow the following preventive steps:
- Avoid contact with sick pigs and bats
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water
- Avoid foods and drinks that could be contaminated
- Avoid direct contact with infected individuals
- Any contact with blood and body fluids of an infected person should be strictly avoided
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has advised people to remain cautious and urged people to remain calm.