In the old days, getting sick wasn’t unheard of or seen but it didn’t seem to be deadly. Not like it is in this day and age. People caught colds, coughs, viral fever, malaria and other illnesses. But today, it seems as if there is a mutated version of all these plus newer illnesses for which there don’t seem to be any cures. In the last 10 to 15 years, the world has seen new illnesses and viruses such as Avian flu, Swine Flu, the Zika virus. And now, the newest virus is the Nipah virus.
What is the Nipah virus?
The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified this virus as an RNA virus that is part of the Paramyxovidae family. It was first identified as a zoonotic pathogen. A zoonotic pathogen is one that is transferred from animals to humans. There was an outbreak involving severe respiratory illness in pigs and encephalitic disease in humans in Malaysia and Singapore in 1998 and 1999. Check out the information on the WHO website about the Nipah virus.
Nipah virus outbreaks in India
India also seems to be facing an outbreak again. The first time the virus was reported in the country was in 2001. 6 years later, there was a repeat outbreak. The two combined left around 50 people dead. In India, the virus appears to be spread by fruit bats. Therefore, consuming fruit or fruit products that have come in contact with urine or saliva of these mammals, would spell certain death for the individual.
The outbreak has so far been confined to Kerala. 10 deaths have been reported thanks to the Nipah virus and a large number of people that possibly came in contact with the affected, have been quarantined. It doesn’t seem to have spread beyond Kerala but there is a very real fear that the rest of the country could be affected.
Goa government asks citizens to stay calm; no virus alert for the state
While social media messages are flying overhead about the virus, the state government has requested locals not to panic.
According to the Health Minister, Vishwajeet Rane, there hasn’t been any alert from the National Centre for Disease Control, New Delhi, regarding the virus outbreak in Kozikhode, Kerala. He further added that there would be a meeting on Wednesday to discuss the matter. The government is also taking the necessary steps to deal with it.
The Nipah virus does not spread like the H1N1 virus. That means it’s not airborne, said an official. The health department’s surveillance mechanism for emerging and epidemic-prone diseases is in place. It involves samples being sent to the National Institute of Virology, Pune.
For more on the Nipah virus check out the below links to different newspaper articles.
Death toll in Nipah virus outbreak mounts to 10, 116 people put under quarantine
Information credit – The Navhind Times/ The World Health Organization