Nipah Virus (NiV)

The topic of the Nipah Virus is related to the Health section of the General Studies paper 2 and Science & Technology section of the UPSC Syllabus. The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the NiV as a zoonosis that causes severe diseases in both humans as well as animals. 

Health and Science & Technology are important topics in the UPSC Syllabus. Students preparing for the IAS Exam and other Government Exams should know the gist of this topic for UPSC Prelims and Mains too. 

What is Nipah Virus?

As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), Nipah Virus (NiV) infection is a newly emerging zoonosis that causes severe disease in both humans and animals. The Nipah virus is a type of RNA virus in the genus Henipavirus. The spread of the virus is rapid and fatal. The mortality rate with infected patients is as high as 70%.

  • Nipah Virus is an airborne transmission infection and can affect those who come in direct contact with contaminated bodies such as pigs or bats carrying the virus.
  • Infected bats shed the virus through excreta and secretions. Human-to-human transmission has also been documented.
  • NiV is also capable of causing disease in pigs and other domestic animals.
  • Direct contact with pigs is the prime mode of transmission of the virus in humans.

Source of Nipah Virus

  • The virus was first identified in Kampung Sungai Nipah in Malaysia and in Singapore in 1998.
  • At that time, it was primarily caused in pigs and through them got transferred to the humans.
  • As quoted by the World Health Organisation, the natural hosts of the virus are fruit bats of the Pteropodidae Family, Pteropus genus.

Nipah Virus and Fruit Bats

Nipah Virus and Fruit Bats

  • Fruit bats belong to the Pteropodidae Family – Pteropus genus.
  • They’re also known as flying foxes.
  • Found in South East Asia.
  • The Nipah Virus can survive in the bat’s body without causing disease, allowing it to jump to susceptible mammals like humans or pigs when bats come in contact with them.
  • Antibodies were found in the Indian Flying Fox during the Bangladesh outbreak. 

The Indian Flying Fox, hosts over 50 viruses. With around 1,200 species, bats comprise 20% of the earth’s mammalian diversity. Long periods of flying raises the temperatures of bats, boosting their immune responses and helps them survive the microbes’ pathogenic effects.

Click on the link to know more about Acute Encephalitis Syndrome.

Symptoms of Nipah Virus Infection

  • Nipah Virus is usually associated with inflammation of the brain due to which several days of fever can often lead to a state of confusion, disorientation and even persistent drowsiness.
  • Encephalitis may also emerge as an acute or late-onset and can be a fatal complication of NiV.
  • Neurological, respiratory and pulmonary signs also emerge in an infected individual.
  • Some common signs and symptoms of NiV are drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, fever, headache and mental issues such as confusion.

Treatment for Nipah Virus

So far, no vaccine has been developed for curing the infection in both humans and animals. The primary treatment for human cases is intensive supportive care and supportive medicines.

Nipah Virus India 

  • The year 2001 saw the first outbreak of Nipah Virus in Siliguri, India followed by the 2007 outbreak in Nadia of West Bengal. 
  • The 2018 outbreak of Kerela was declared over soon after it was localized in Kozhikode and Malappuram districts of Kerala.
  • In Kochi, another case was seen in June 2019.

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