As the death toll in the virus-induced fever in north Kerala rises to nine, the National Virology Institute in Pune has confirmed that the deceased were infected with Nipah virus (NiV). This is the first time the virus, which has high fatality rate and spreads mainly through bats, pigs and other animals, has been detected in the state.
The Union Health Ministry has rushed a team of experts to assist the state that is struggling to cope with the outbreak. Here’s all you need to know about the 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 are fruit bats of the Pteropodidae Family, Pteropus genus.
NiV was first identified during an outbreak of disease that took place in Kampung Sungai Nipah, Malaysia in 1998. On this occasion, pigs were the intermediate hosts. However, in subsequent NiV outbreaks, there were no intermediate hosts. In Bangladesh in 2004, humans became infected with NiV as a result of consuming date palm sap that had been contaminated by infected fruit bats. Human-to-human transmission has also been documented, including in a hospital setting in India.
The viruses jump the species barrier and infect a secondary animal host, transmission takes place through direct contact with infected bats, pigs, or fro...