Health authorities in India are urgently acting to curb the spread of the Nipah virus on Thursday after it claimed two lives and has a mortality rate as high as 75 percent as per the World Health Organization’s assessment.
In the southern region of Kerala, approximately 800 individuals underwent testing recently. Following the tests, two adults and a child were hospitalized after confirming positive results, reports Reuters.
State Health Minister Veena George informed the news outlet, “We diligently examine individuals while experts gather fluid samples from potentially affected forest zones. We’re maintaining a heightened level of alertness and early detection.”
Preventive measures have been adopted across the region, as Reuters notes the closure of public offices, official structures, and places of worship in certain areas. In addition, samples of bat urine, animal waste, and partly consumed fruits have been sourced from the village of the initial patient.
As defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Nipah virus is zoonotic, indicating its transmission potential from animals to humans. Primarily, fruit bats are its leading carriers in the wild.
The CDC says, “Not only pigs but humans too can get afflicted with the Nipah virus.” The agency further elaborates that it leads to encephalitis or brain inflammation and can range from mild sickness to severe conditions, even resulting in death.
The WHO estimates the death rate of the Nipah virus to be between 40 percent and 75 percent, highlighting that this percentage might fluctuate across outbreaks, influenced by local health monitoring and treatment proficiency.
As stated by WHO, initial symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, vomiting, and a sore throat, potentially advancing to more severe neurological symptoms indicative of acute encephalitis. Some may also experience significant respiratory distress, including symptoms like acute respiratory failure. Advanced cases can lead to seizures and a coma in a short span of 24 to 48 hours.
According to the CDC, transmission of the virus happens through direct interaction with contaminated animals or humans and their body fluids or via consumption of tainted food items.
The available treatment focuses on relieving symptoms, which includes adequate rest, hydration, and symptomatic care, says the CDC.
Lastly, Reuters highlighted that past Nipah virus outbreaks in India and Bangladesh resulted in the death of 62 individuals in 2001 and another 21 in Kerala in 2018.