“Three Risk Factors to Watch Out for in the Nipah Virus Outbreak.”

In a concerning development, the Nipah virus, known for its brain-damaging effects, has resurfaced for the third time in the Kozhikode district of Kerala within a span of five years. This outbreak prompted the state health department to issue a health alert in response to two reported “unnatural” deaths and the identification of four high-risk contact cases, one of which involves a 9-year-old child on ventilator support. Although the patients are under medical care, with the 9-year-old showing significant improvement and no longer requiring ventilator support, the situation remains cautious pending further test results.

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Dr. Harish Chafle, a Consultant Intensivist and Chest Physician at Global Hospitals in Parel Mumbai, explained in an interview that the Nipah virus is a zoonotic virus, meaning it can transfer from animals to humans. This virus can manifest various symptoms, including fever, headache, fatigue, muscle pain, respiratory distress, and even encephalitis, which is inflammation of the brain. Dr. Chafle also emphasized that in severe cases, Nipah virus infection can lead to a coma within 24-48 hours and may prove fatal.

Highlighting the primary risk factors and causes of Nipah virus transmission, he mentioned:

1.Animal Reservoirs: Fruit bats serve as the natural reservoir of the Nipah virus, and contact with these bats, their excretions, or saliva can lead to transmission to humans.

2.Consumption of Contaminated Food: Infection can also occur through the consumption of fruits or juices contaminated with bat saliva or urine.

3.Human-to-Human Transmission: Once a person is infected, Nipah virus can spread through close contact with infected individuals, particularly in healthcare settings.

Dr. Chafle pointed out that, as of his last update in September 2021, there is no specific antiviral treatment for Nipah virus infection. Supportive care is vital, including isolation of patients to prevent further transmission, symptomatic treatment to manage fever and pain, and intensive care for severe cases, potentially involving mechanical ventilation for respiratory distress. While some experimental treatments and antiviral drugs have been explored, their effectiveness remains uncertain.

He concluded by emphasizing the importance of consulting healthcare experts and organizations for the latest information on Nipah virus, especially regarding any developments in treatment or prevention strategies. He recommended reaching out to relevant health authorities like the World Health Organization (WHO) and local healthcare providers or institutions for region-specific expert guidance.

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