While Nipah virus or the Henipavirus virus was first identified in fruit bats in Africa. These days Nipah virus is becoming a big and growing problem in coastal parts of South India. The death tolls are increasing day by day while the virus is finding its way into the country. While the cases are still limited to South India, a high alert has been announced till New Delhi which is the capital of the country.

Here are important things you should know about the virus so that your knowledge can help you combat it.

1. Neither animals nor Humans are safe from this virus. Both humans and other kinds of animals can be infected with it. While fruit bats are considered as the most potent carriers of the virus, pigs are also transmitting the virus.

2. The virus can take from 4 to 14 days to exhibit symptoms. If anybody in proximity feels the symptoms, exposure can be anywhere in past 15 days and the source should be tried to identify.

3.  The initial symptoms are very mild and common including flu and common cold like effects. Do not panic if you feel the symptoms because it can always be normal cold or flu. But better be safe and therefore consult your doctor as soon as possible.

4. The virus attacks both your respiratory and nervous system. In 75% of cases in India, lungs have been found affected causes hypoventilation, breathlessness, lack of oxygen. Later on, developing into encephalitis. Once developed into encephalitis, the mortality rate increases. It can lead to personality disorders and seizures.

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5.  Right now, there is no much effective treatment yet. The only treatment provided to the patients today are supportive care and controlled environment with symptomatic care. Patients with compromised respiratory conditions are put on the ventilator for assisted breathing.

6. WHO (World Health Organization) and CDC (Center for Disease Control) have guidelines for quarantine and treatment protocols which are limited.

7. West Bengal have faced the outbreaks of the virus in 2001 and 2007 where an approximate 50 deaths were reported. The most common routes of transmission are animals to humans and human to humans contact. In Bengal, the transmission route was the infected date palm syrups.

8. With such an increasing rate of population growth in India and a high number of people residing in proximity the possibility of the virus becoming an outbreak is higher. Proper precaution needs to taken to ensure the safety.

9. Precautions are very vague due to lack of proper treatment, however, small measures can be taken, including the use of full covering dresses, masks in crowds, eat food from reliable sources only and use treated water, eat  homecooked meal and well-cooked meal.  If infected and facing symptoms meet a good doctor and voice out your doubt. Try to avoid animal contact if the animal isn’t vaccinated and taken well care of.

10. However Kerala has announced being able to contain the outbreak, a few cases have been reported in Karnataka. As people traveling within states is more common now, the clinics and hospitals should be well stocked with supplies of whatever treatment can be given and the cases and suspected cases should not be ignored. The doctors should be given instructions to study the symptoms well and not leave the possibility of Nipah infection aside.

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While India’s position on Earth makes it a hot country, the same sun can kill the virus well and keep the bats at way too. But that’s a presumption we can hope will save us and drive virus off, before the rainy seasons as that is the most disease friendly season.

This article is for people to get as much information on the virus and what they can do to protect themselves as well as people around them. Safety is most important when it comes to outbreaks of viruses. They do not select people and therefore everybody is as much in danger as any other.

If anyone finds out anything better or further on this virus, kindly leave in the comments. Information and knowledge is the first step to safety.

Be safe everyone and take care.

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Lipi Gupta

Writer, Poet, Blogger, Editor.

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