On Sunday morning, a 12-year old boy infected with the Nipah virus and died in a hospital in Kozhikode. The boy showed symptoms of myocarditis and encephalitis – inflammation of the brain and heart muscles respectively.
The re-emergence of the Nipah virus in Kerala creates a new risk for the people who are already struggling with the Covid-19 pandemic. However, Kerala is contributing is over 65 per cent of all new Covid cases in the country. However, this is not the first time when Nipah Virus is detected in Kerala or in India.
What is Nipah Virus?
The first Nipah virus outbreak reported in Malaysia in 1998 and Singapore in 1999. The virus takes the name from a village in Malaysia where the person who was first isolated died of the disease.
After 1998-99, the virus outbreaks have seen multiple times, and all of them were in South and Southeast Asian nations. In Bangladesh, nearly 10 outbreaks were found of the virus since 2001, whereas in India, West Bengal had seen an outbreak in 2001 and 2007, while Kerala had reported several cases in 2018.
How Does It Spread?
Nipah virus is termed a zoonotic virus which means it has been transmitted from animals to human beings. This transmission generally takes place through the consumption of contaminated food, but human-to-human transmission is also considered possible. The animal host reservoir for Nipah is known as the fruit bat or flying fox. Fruit bats can also transmit this virus to other animals like dogs, pigs, goats, cats, sheep, and horses.
Experts say that humans get infected mainly through direct contact with these animals, or when they consume contaminated food by saliva or urine of these infected animals. A recent study published by two Bangladeshi researchers says that the person-to-person transmission is not fully established, but the previous outbreaks in Bangladesh and the Philippines and India suggested: “that respiratory droplet of an infected person can transmit the virus”. During previous outbreaks, people in close contact with the infected person, mainly hospital staff and caregivers, have contracted the disease.