Nipah Virus (NiV) Infection

What is Nipah virus?
Nipah virus (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. 
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.
NiV infection in humans has a range of clinical presentations, from asymptomatic infection to acute respiratory syndrome and fatal encephalitis. NiV is also 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.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Nipah virus (NiV) is a newly emerging zoonosis that causes severe disease in both animals and humans. The Nipah virus, also known as Nipah Virus encephalitis, was first identified in Malaysia and Singapore in 1998-1999, when it caused disease in pigs and humans. During the 1998-99 outbreaks, the virus affected 265 people and about 40 percent of those patients who were hospitalized with the severe nervous disease died from the infection.
What are the signs and symptoms of Nipah virus?
Basically, NiV infection in humans is linked to encephalitis – inflammation of the brain- characterized by fever, headache, drowsiness, disorientation, mental confusion, coma, and potentially death. According to the CDC, symptoms can progress to coma within 24-48 hours. In some cases, patients may develop a respiratory illness during the early part of their infections.

How is Nipah virus treated? Is there a cure for NiV?
In humans, the primary treatment for Nipah virus is intensive supportive care. The drug ribavirin has been shown to be effective against the viruses in vitro. However, the clinical efficacy of ribavirin remains inconclusive to date in human trials.
Unfortunately, there is no specific NiV treatment or a vaccine for either humans or animals.

How can you prevent getting Nipah virus infection?
Since human-to-human transmission of Nipah virus has been documented, standard infection control practices are important in preventing the spread of the disease. Health workers should take proper precautionary measures when caring for infected patients or handling and submitting laboratory samples to avoid hospital-acquired infections.