What is Nipah virus?
Nipah virus (NiV) infection is a newly emerging zoonosis that causes severe disease in both animals and humans. The natural host of the virus are the fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family -- Pteropus genus. The primary treatment that can be given to humans is intensive supportive care. NiV is also capable of causing disease in pigs and other domestic animals. There is no vaccine against it for humans or animals.
NiV was first identified during an outbreak of disease in Kampung Sungai Nipah, Malaysia in 1998. Pigs were the intermediate hosts then. 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.
After exposure and an incubation period of five to 14 days, illness presents with three-14 days of fever and headache, followed by drowsiness, disorientation and mental confusion. These signs and symptoms can progress to coma within 24-48 hours. Some patients have a respiratory illness during the early part of their infections, and half of the patients show severe neurological signs and pulmonary signs.
Transmission of NiV to humans occurs when they come in direct contact with infected bats, other infected animals and people. The virus can be transferred from a human through close contact, body fluids, saliva and cough.