The reported ‘unnatural’ deaths of two people in Kerala’s Kozhikode district have sent alarm bells ringing in the state. According to news agency PTI, relatives of one of the deceased have been admitted to the intensive care unit, Kerala health minister Veena George said. Nipah virus infection is basically a zoonotic disease and can be transmitted from animals to humans; besides, it can spread through contaminated food or through contact. The present suspected case was reported about 15 km from where the initial Nipah virus outbreak in southern India was first identified in Kozhikode in May 2018 and then again in 2021. Dr Kush Ohri, Senior Consultant Internal Medicine, Metro Hospitals & Heart Institute, Noida, Uttar Pradesh talks about the symptoms are preventive measures.
What Is Nipah Virus?
According to the World Health Organization, “Nipah virus infection is a zoonotic illness that is transmitted to people from animals, and can also be transmitted through contaminated food or directly from person-to-person. In infected people, it causes a range of illnesses from asymptomatic (subclinical) infection to acute respiratory illness and fatal encephalitis. The virus can also cause severe disease in animals such as pigs, resulting in significant economic losses for farmers.”
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Nipah Virus: Key Symptoms
Dr Kush Ohri lists the following symptoms and side effects of the Nipah virus
1. Fever: One of the initial signs of Nipah virus infection is a high-grade fever that lasts for several days.
2. Encephalitis: The Nipah virus can cause inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), leading to symptoms such as excruciating headache, drowsiness, confusion, and disorientation.
3. Respiratory Issues: Infected individuals may experience respiratory problems, including cough, sore throat, and breathing difficulty.
4. Muscle Pain: Muscle pain, body aches, and fatigue are common symptoms of Nipah virus infection.
5. Nervous System Problems: In severe cases, Nipah virus infection can lead to seizures, coma, and even death.
Prevention Tips For Nipah Virus
1. Avoid Direct Contact: Minimise direct contact with infected animals, especially bats and pigs, as they are considered primary sources of Nipah virus transmission.
2. Practice Good Hygiene: Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially after coming into contact with animals or their body fluids.
3. Cook Food Thoroughly: Ensure that meat and other animal products are cooked thoroughly before consumption to kill any potential viruses.
4. Use Personal Protective Equipment: If you are involved in caregiving or handling animals, wear appropriate personal protective equipment, such as gloves and masks, to minimize the risk of exposure.
5. Stay Informed: Stay updated with the latest information and guidance provided by local health authorities regarding Nipah virus outbreaks in your region.
Nipah Virus: What To Do If You Are Feeling Unwell
“If you experience any symptoms of Nipah virus infection, such as fever, respiratory issues, or neurological problems, seek medical attention immediately. Inform healthcare providers about any recent exposure to animals or areas with known Nipah virus outbreaks. By staying informed and following necessary preventive measures, you can reduce the risk of Nipah virus infection and protect yourself and your community. Stay vigilant, practice good hygiene, and prioritize your health and well-being,” says Dr Kush Ohri.