Explained: Nipah Virus Outbreak in India

Recently, the state Health Department has confirmed Nipah virus (NiV) infection for the first time in Kerala with the blood and body fluid samples of two persons who died of viral fever in the past fortnight in Kozhikode district indicating the presence of the zoonotic disease.

The Union health minister JP Nadda has also reviewed the situation of deaths related to Nipah virus in Kerala with Secretary Health. He has directed to constitute a high-level team of doctors and visit the district and initiate required steps as warranted by the protocol for the disease in consultation with state government. This is the first time the Nipah virus has been detected in this state which has high fatality rate and spreads mainly through bats, pigs and other animals. However, According to World Health Organisation (WHO), India has in the past documented human-to-human transmission of the rare Nipah virus.

What is Nipah Virus?

Nipah virus (NiV) infection is a newly-emerging zoonosis (a disease which can be transmitted to humans from animals) that causes severe disease in both animals and humans. The natural host of the virus is fruit bats of the Pteropodidae Family, Pteropus genus.

How this virus got its name?

Nipah virus infection gets its name from the village in Malaysia where the person from whom the virus was first isolated succumbed to the disease. The NiV has been listed in the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Terrestrial Animal Health Code and must be reported to the OIE (OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code).

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