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Nipah Virus in Kerala: Here’s How You Can Protect Yourself

Here’s all you need to know about the Nipah virus and how you can avoid getting sick.

Updated
Health News
2 min read
Here’s all you need to know about the Nipah virus and how you can avoid getting sick.
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After much speculation, the Kerala government has confirmed Nipah virus in a 23-year-old man who had been admitted to a private hospital in Ernakulam on May 30.

The confirmation came in from the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune on 4 June.

Soon there will be misinformed WhatsApp forwards doing the rounds which will not only add to the fear but will also be gravely misleading. So make sure you get your facts right.

Here’s all you need to know about the Nipah virus and how you can avoid getting sick:

Nipah Virus in Kerala: Here’s How You Can Protect Yourself
(Photo: Arnica Kala/ FIT)

What is Nipah Virus?

Nipah virus, or NiV infection, is an infectious disease that causes severe illness in animals and humans. It spreads through infected fruit bats, pigs, or from other infected people.

Nipah virus is fairly new. The virus was first identified in 1998 in Malaysia and pigs were identified as the intermediate host. It spread to humans after they came in contact with pig feces and excretions. The virus has also been found in species of domestic animals including dogs, cats, goats, horses and sheep after they came in contact with pigs.

Symptoms & Treatment

Some of the symptoms of this disease are fever, headache, drowsiness, disorientation, mental confusion and in certain cases, coma. Once diagnosed, the patient must be kept in total isolation.

There is still no vaccination available for this virus so the treatment is largely focused on managing fever and neurological symptoms.

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How Can You Avoid Getting Sick?

  • Since the Nipah virus can spread if you come in contact with infected animals or people, it is very important to maintain high levels of personal hygiene.
  • Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly and cover your mouth if you are in an infected area.
  • The primary carrier of this virus are fruit bats and they often drop half eaten fruits which might be consumed by other animals or humans and spread the infection. So it is advised that you avoid consuming pork or drinking date palm sap in the infected areas.
  • Avoid eating fruits in the infected areas till source of infection is identified.
Travellers should avoid visits to endemic areas until the disease is curtailed and in case of recent transit they should look out for symptoms like fever, headache and cough and will need to seek medical care immediately.
Dr Mahesh Kumar, Consultant - Internal Medicine, Narayana Health City, Bengaluru

And most importantly, don’t panic! It’s always important to be aware and take preventive measures.

If you have any questions, then you can write to us at fit@thequint.com and we will get doctors to answer them for you.

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