Nipah Virus - The Facts You Need to Know

Posted on : Mar 01, 2021


Nipah virus-related death tolls reported since Sunday(20-05-2018) is eleven in Calicut District, Kerala. Kerala health department is on high alert when a Government nurse exposed to the virus while treating a Nipah virus infected patient died in Calicut. Both the State and Central Governments have deployed special task force to investigate and control the outbreak.

So far, effective antiviral therapies for the infection have not developed and make the disease the most dangerous of this era. Prevention is the only cure for this disease. Let us have some quick facts about the disease and keep them in your memory.

What is Nipah Virus

According to World Health Organisation, Nipah virus (NiV) infection is a newly emerging zoonosis that causes severe disease in both animals and humans. To simplify, it is a virus attack, resulting in brain fever and leads to death.

The virus is named after Kampung Sungai Nipah, Malaysia as the virus was initially discovered when an outbreak was reported among the pig farmers in that area.


1. Reported first time in Malaysia in 1998
2. More than three hundred died
3. Initially discovered in Pig Farmers
4. Mass killing of over one million pigs to control outbreak
5. Reported outbreak in Singapore in 1999
6. Imported pigs from Malaysia were the cause that time.
7. Reported outbreak in Bangladesh in 2001, 2003, 2004,2005,2007-2012
8. 209 human cases reported in Bangladesh; 77% of them died.
9. Two times in India 2001 & 2007
10. 50 out of 71 were died in two outbreaks
11. Reason attributed to urine and saliva of bats ingressed in fruits & well water.

Why did Nipah Virus spread only now?

► The increased urbanization, changing climate, deforestation and many other ecological factors
► Shortage of resources for bat populations compelled bats to move from their natural habitats to agricultural areas.
► Human intervention into the bat infested areas due to rapid urbanization
► Mismanagement of large piggeries

How Is it spreading

As noted above Nipah Virus attack is attributed to the Climate changes and deforestation and hence the scarcity of resources for bat population and eventually discharges viruses of high density through feces and saliva.

The hosts: Flying foxes or fruit bats are the carriers of Nipah virus

The pigs: The virus spread from bats to pigs as the major stalks of vegetables and fruits are being eaten by pigs

The disease can be transmitted to any other animals also like, rabbits, horses, dogs etc who have close contacts with bats or had eaten bat bitten fruits.

The humans: the virus spread from animals to human

Also, if the human get into the contact of bats on any means like having bat bitten fruits, close contact of affected animals etc.

Why is Nipah Virus Dangerous

Stating as a fever, within 24 hours of infection, the virus affects the central nervous system and the patient may enter a coma. Within 48 hours the patient may die or if survived will have a massive neurological disorder.

Red Flags

These are the clinical signs one must take care of, any symptoms of this kind should be immediately taken care at hospitals.

1. Headaches and Fever
2. Dizziness and Vomiting
3. Cough
4. Sleepiness
5. Disorientation
6. Reduced level of consciousness
7. Breathing problems
8. Prominent brain-stem dysfunction


Treatment is limited to supportive care as Nipah virus encephalitis can be transmitted person-to-person. Infections by NiV in humans and animals are confirmed by virus isolation, nucleic acid amplification tests and serologic tests. NiV has no cure and the treatment is limited to supportive care. Clinical trial on ribavirin is progressing however no treatment is universally accepted.

Prevention & Control

Being no particular vaccination is available for the treatment of Nipah Virus, personal hygiene is very important to prevent the virus attack. Individuals should keep away from pigs, bats and affected human beings. People residing in the endemic regions should practice personal hygiene in all means. Health professionals attending to Nipah affected patients should take precautionary measures, such as wearing masks and gloves. Practice hand hygiene and sanitizer gels are the best an individual can do at this time.

(Dr Vishnu Mohan, Consultant in Pediatrics and Neonatology, Aster MIMS Calicut, explaining the symptoms and precautions to be taken about Nipah Virus)

Healthcare professionals from Aster MIMS also suggests public not to treat any type of fever, cough themselves, if they feel uneasiness get themselves tested immediately.


1. Contacts with Bats / Pigs
2. Fruits like Rambutan, Guava, Plantain fruits
3. Pig Farm Visits

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