Nipah virus scare: Here’s all you need to know about it

Nipah virus scare is on the rise after a 12-year old succumbed to the deadly infection in Kerala. Close to 200 primary and secondary contacts of the deceased boy are under observation. Officials say two of these are showing some symptoms of the disease already.

Authorities in Tamil Nadu are on high alert and have stepped up the vigil in all border areas. Anyone arriving from Kerala is being monitored for symptoms. Coimbatore district collector Dr GS Sameeran visited the Walayar check post to check the monitoring arrangements. Here’s all you need to know about Nipah virus.


Nipah virus (NiV) is a zoonotic virus, which means that it is transmitted from animals to humans. It can also be transmitted through contaminated food or directly between people. Fruit bats are the main natural hosts of Nipah virus. Species found in India that can spread infections include Pteropus giganteus, Eonycteris spelaea, Cynopteurs, sphinx, Scotophilus kuhlii and Hipposideros larvatus.

Consuming food and fluids which have been contaminated with saliva and dropping of infected bats can be the main source of infection in humans.

Drinking raw Date palm sap eaten by infected bats can be the cause of infection in humans. Consuming animals that have been infected already through bats can also transmit virus in humans. Human-to-Human transmission is also possible through contact or transmitting fluids of an infected person.


According to WHO Nipah virus causes a range of illnesses from asymptomatic (subclinical) infection to acute respiratory illness and fatal encephalitis in humans. Fever, headache, drowsiness, mental confusion, Epellesy are common symptoms. A person may even slip into coma after prolonged undiagnosed infection.


Nipah virus was first identified among pig farmers in Malaysia in 1999. In India, the disease surfaced in Siliguri, West Bengal, in 2001 and again in 2007. In 2011, 30 people died in neighbouring Bangladesh of Nipah and in 2018, an outbreak was reported in north Kerala. Experts say historically the virus had largely remained in a cluster, meaning it was mostly confined to an area, and affected those that came in close contact with the patients.


Doctors suggest avoid eating fruits that are visibly bitten by birds or animals. Scrub hands after being in close contact with anyone who is unwell. Wear double masks and gloves while looking after the sick. One should wear PPE kits if visiting relatives in hospitals. Experts say there is no vaccine for animals or humans who are infected with Nipah virus and the primary treatment for human is supportive care. Dr Ashutosh Biswas, Professor, Department of Medicine, AIIMS told ANI “We don’t have specific treatment. Fruit bats live in a specific geographical territory. If they fly to other places, naturally this virus can be transmitted.”


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