What to know about the Nipah virus outbreak in India

What to know about the Nipah virus outbreak in India – ABC News

India’s southern state of Kerala is currently facing an outbreak of the rare but potentially serious Nipah virus, which has killed at least two people so far, according to local reports.

Health authorities have closed schools and offices in Kerala and hundreds of residents are being tested.

Although the Nipah virus has a high mortality rate and no specific treatment options are available, experts believe it is very unlikely that the virus will become a global emergency and that it is a reminder of how habitat destruction has led to this that animals transmitted the disease to humans.

Here’s what you need to know about the virus, including signs and symptoms, how the virus is transmitted, and what treatments are available.

What is the Nipah virus?

The Nipah virus is a type of zoonotic disease, meaning it occurs primarily in animals and can initially spread between animals and people.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it was first discovered in 1999 after a disease struck both pigs and humans in Malaysia and Singapore.

Nipah viruses bind receptors on human cells, an early stage of Nipah infection.Dr_microbe/Getty Images

The virus is most commonly transmitted by flying foxes, also known as flying foxes, and can be transmitted through direct or indirect contact.

“People can become infected if they have close contact with an infected animal or body fluids, such as the saliva of a flying fox on a fruit and then it flies away and then a human eats the fruit,” says Dr. Diana Finkel, an associate professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, told ABC News.

The virus can also be transmitted from person to person through close contact or exposure to an infected person’s bodily fluids.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms typically appear between four and 14 days after exposure. The most common symptom is fever, followed by headache, cough, sore throat, difficulty breathing and vomiting.

Diagnosing the virus in its early stages is often difficult because symptoms are similar to many other illnesses, the CDC said.

The virus can cause severe symptoms such as disorientation, drowsiness, seizures or encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain. According to the CDC, these can progress to a coma within 24 to 48 hours.

According to the Federal Health Office, the number of deaths fluctuates between 40 and 75% in all cases. Some permanent changes were noted in survivors, including persistent convulsions.

What treatment options are there?

There are currently no specific treatments available for Nipah virus. Treatment is limited to supportive measures, including rest and hydration.

Experts said treatments are currently being developed. One of these is a monoclonal antibody, which are immune system proteins made in a laboratory that mimic the antibodies that the body naturally makes to fight the virus.

Finkel said the drug has already completed Phase I clinical trials and is currently being used on a compassionate basis.

Researchers are also studying the potential benefits of remdesivir – the intravenous drug used to treat COVID-19 – which has been shown to work well in non-human primates with Nipah virus.

What is the likelihood of the Nipah virus spreading?

Experts said that while anything was possible, it was very unlikely that the outbreak in India would lead to global spread.

There has been limited person-to-person transmission during the outbreak in India.

Nipah viruses bind receptors on human cells, an early stage of Nipah infection.Dr_microbe/Getty Images

“It’s a small world, but the likelihood of someone being infected or a flying fox infected with Nipah virus being here is very unlikely right now,” Finkel said.

She said when health care workers are exposed, it is often because standard precautions are not followed, such as not wearing gloves or masks.

Experts say the outbreak is also a reminder of the potentially devastating effects of habitat destruction and climate change, which could potentially lead to greater interaction between infected animals and humans.

“Taking this current outbreak in Kerala as an example, one has to think about why flying foxes harboring this Nipah virus come into contact with humans?” Dr. Peter Rabinowitz, director of the Center for One Health Research at the University of Washington, told ABC News. “What is changing in the movement of bat populations? Are they pulling out?” [a] Habitat in which there weren’t very many people? Are they spending more time around people now?”