The Nipah Virus (NiV) is a zoonotic virus (animal to human) that may be transmitted through food that is contaminated or directly between people. NiV belongs to the genus Henipavirus in the family Paramyxoviridae. Fruit bats, commonly known as flying foxes, are the NiV's natural animal host reservoir. Nipah virus is also reported to infect pigs and humans. If an infected animal or its bodily fluids (such as saliva or urine) come into touch with a human, they may get infected as well. This initial spread from an animal to a person is referred to as a spillover occurrence. NiV can also transmit from person to person once it has infected humans. NiV infection is linked to encephalitis, or brain swelling, and can cause mild or severe illness and sometimes lead to death.
Nipah Virus Symptoms
Typically, 4-14 days after a virus exposure, symptoms start to appear. The illness usually includes symptoms of a respiratory illness, such as coughing, sore throat, and difficulty breathing, and typically begins with 3-14 days of fever and headache. Drowsiness, disorientation, and mental confusion are common symptoms of the next phase of brain swelling (encephalitis), which may rapidly lead to coma within 24-48 hours.
Initial symptoms could involve one or more of the following:
Severe symptoms like:
In 40-75% of instances, death may occur. Survivors of Nipah virus infection have reported long-term side effects such as chronic convulsions and behavioral abnormalities.
Additionally, infections that show symptoms and can even cause death months or even years after exposure have been reported. These diseases are referred to as dormant or latent infections.
When to see a doctor?
If you suspect you or a family member has Nipah virus infection, consult a doctor. If you have symptoms such a fever, headache, respiratory distress, or neurological issues, or if you think you may have been exposed to the Nipah virus, you should get medical assistance right away. Nipah virus infection can progress rapidly and has the potential to be life-threatening, so early diagnosis and medical care are crucial for effective treatment and containment.
Nipah Virus Causes
People who came into contact with infected pigs started becoming severely ill, and this was the first incident of the Nipah virus. Researchers discovered that bats were the initial source of the virus, having carried it on to pigs.
An infected bat or pig can infect another animal by spreading body fluid to it. The similar thing occurs whenever people come in contact with an animal's body fluid. This might be from saliva, blood, feces, or pee. Once a person has been infected, they can transmit the virus to others through contact with bodily fluids.
Food products that have been contaminated by the secretions of infected animals can potentially spread the disease. Fruit and sap from the raw date palm are included. The Nipah virus has also infected people who frequently climb trees where bats rest and sleep.
Nipah Virus Risk Factors
- Close contact with infected fruit bats or their contaminated saliva, urine, or feces.
- Consumption of food or water such as raw date palm sap contaminated by bat secretions.
- Person-to-person transmission through respiratory droplets.
- Direct contact with infected animals, especially pigs.
- Living in or visiting regions with a history of Nipah virus outbreaks.
- Lack of proper hygiene and sanitation practices.
- Healthcare workers at risk of nosocomial transmission.
- Handling of contaminated materials without proper protection.
- Limited access to healthcare facilities in affected areas.
Nipah Virus Complications
- Neurological issues brought on by encephalitis (brain inflammation).
- Respiratory distress syndrome, a potentially fatal condition.
- Confusion and seizure activity.
- Neurological aftereffects, such as persistent cognitive impairment.
- A virus relapse that causes repeated infection.
- Organ failure, especially in extreme cases.
- Increased risk of secondary bacterial infections.
- Potential for severe psychological trauma.
- High mortality rate, with many cases of death.
Nipah Virus Diagnosis
A medical professional can identify the Nipah virus by reviewing your symptoms and asking about any recent travel to places where the virus is common. An RT-PCR (real-time polymerase chain reaction) test can be used by a medical professional to identify the Nipah virus in the early stages of illness. The following bodily fluids are analyzed during this test to determine the condition:
- Throat or nasal swabs.
- CSF, or cerebrospinal fluid.
- Urine samples.
- blood samples.
By analyzing your blood for specific antibodies, healthcare professionals can detect the infection in its later stages or after you've recovered. This is called ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay).
The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay and virus isolation by cell culture are further tests that are used.
Nipah Virus Treatment
Currently, no medications or vaccinations are available to treat Nipah virus infection. This means that the only effective treatment for NiV is supportive care, which includes rest, hydration, and the management of certain symptoms as they arise.
- Acetaminophen and/or ibuprofen to treat pain and fevers;
- Dimenhydrinate and/or ondansetron to treat motion sickness;
- Dextromethorphan, dexamethasone, ipratropium, or salbutamol inhalers or nebulizers to treat respiratory symptoms;
- Dimenhydrinate and/or ondansetron to treat nausea and vomiting.
- Anti-seizure drugs such as benzodiazepines, levetiracetam, and/or phenytoin may be used to treat seizures caused by acute encephalitis and keep neurological symptoms under control.
While there are currently no approved medication treatments for NiV infection, immunotherapeutic treatments such as monoclonal antibody therapies are being developed and evaluated for NiV infection treatment. The monoclonal antibody m102.4 is in clinical studies and is being used on an individual basis. Antiviral medications, such as remdesivir, have been found in investigations on nonhuman primates to be effective following NiV exposure. Ribavirin was also used to treat a small number of patients during the initial NiV outbreak, although its efficacy in humans is unknown.
Do’s and Don’ts
|Seek medical attention if you have signs of Nipah virus infection, such as fever, headache, or respiratory problems, especially if you reside in an outbreak-prone location.||Avoid consuming raw date palm sap.|
|Use hand sanitizer and wash your hands frequently with soap and water.||Do not handle or touch dead bats or their body fluids since they can spread the Nipah virus.|
|Protect yourself by wearing personal protective equipment.||Avoid contact with Nipah virus affected people, especially if they have respiratory symptoms, to avoid person-to-person transmission.|
|Adhere to Infection Control Measures||Avoid sharing personal objects such as cutlery, towels, or clothing with infected people.|
|Avoid close contact with infected animals, and do not handle or eat sick animals.||Avoid large crowds.|
|Stay up to date on local health authority information and follow their advice during Nipah virus epidemics.||If you suspect Nipah virus infection, seek medical attention right once because early diagnosis and treatment are important for improved outcomes.|
Care at Medicover Hospital
We have the best group of general physicians and other medical specialists who treat the Nipah Virus at Medicover hospitals with the utmost precision. Our experienced doctors have excellent diagnostic tools and screening techniques, which they use to build treatment plans like supportive care. Our specialists work closely with the patients to monitor their status and the efficacy of the therapy for a quicker and longer-lasting recovery from Nipah infection.