At least 8 people have died and more than 25 others are under observation in Kerala’s Kozhikode district. The Union Health Minister, JP Nadda, has sent a team from National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to investigate and assist the local administration in examining the reason behind the several deaths. And in case if you are wondering what is this ‘Nipah’virus and should you worry? Is it deadly and most important of all it is curable? Then here is everything you need to know about Nipah virus:

What is Nipah Virus?

According to World Health Organisation Nipah Virus, also known as Niv, is a newly emerging zoonosis that causes severe disease in both animals and humans. The natural host of the virus are fruit bats of the Pteropodidae Family, Pteropus genus.

Nipah virus was first identified during an outbreak in Malaysia in 1998. On this occasion pigs were the immediate hosts but in the subsequent outbreaks, humans became infected. Its next reported outbreak was in 2004 in Bangladesh, then it was established that humans became infected with NiV as a result of consuming date palm sap that had been contaminated by infected fruit bats. During the outbreak 33 health workers and hospital visitors became ill.

 What are the symptoms of Nipah Virus?

In Malaysia where the disease was first spotted, symptoms ranged from asymptomatic to fever, headache, drowsiness, disorientation, mental confusion, coma, and death. NiV is said to be capable of causing disease in pigs and other domestic animals. There is no vaccine for either humans or animals. The primary treatment for human cases is intensive supportive care. Treatment is focused on managing fever and neurological symptoms and offering full support.

Why Niv now?

Epidemiologists attribute the emergence of this type of virus to the loss of the natural habitat of bats. According to WHO, it has emerged as a result of bats getting hungry and their immune system getting weaker, which eventually leads to their virus load going up and virus spilling out in their urine and saliva.

According to reports, before its current outbreak in Kerala, 252 people have been killed worldwide due to Nipah virus.

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