Nipah virus (NiV) is a member of the family Paramyxoviridae, genus Henipavirus. Nipah virus infection is a newly emerging zoonosis that causes severe disease in both animals and humans. History of NiV goes back to 1999 during an outbreak of encephalitis and respiratory illness among pig farmers and people with close contact with pigs in Malaysia and Singapore. The natural host of the virus is fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family, Pteropus genus. It got its name from Sungai Nipah, a village in the Malaysian Peninsula.
Nipah virus transmits to a human directly through contact with infected bats, infected pigs or from infected people. In past days in Malaysia and Singapore, NiV was transmitted only through infected pigs but in India and Bangladesh person to person transmission of Nipah virus has been reported. Transmission mainly occurs from direct exposure to infected bats. Large fruit bats of genus Pteropus appear to be the natural reservoir of NiV.
The incubation period of the virus is 5 to 14 days. Illness occurs with 3 to 14 days of fever and headache, followed by disorientation, drowsiness and mental confusion. Infection is also associated with inflammation of the brain. If not treated, the sign and symptoms can progress to coma within 24 to 48 hours.
- Serology-blood tests to see the antibiotics
- Histopathology-microscopic study of tissues
- PCR- Polymerase Chain Reaction technique to look for DNA
- Virus isolation
- Serum Neutralization Test
Avoiding exposure to sick pigs, bats and infected human in endemic areas and not drinking raw date palm sap can be a preventive measure. Awareness about the disease always works in preventing one. Surveillance, awareness, and research to better understand the ecology of bats and Nipah virus can also help in prevention.
There is no perfect vaccine for the NiV. Hence, supportive care is the main treatment. Standard infection control practices and proper barrier nursing techniques are important in preventing hospital-acquired infections.