The What, When, and How about the Current Nipah Virus Outbreak in India

In recent news, a Nipah virus outbreak was declared in the Indian state of Kerala with a total of 6 confirmed cases, 2 which resulted in death. India is no stranger to Nipah virus with 4 previous outbreaks occurring between the years of 2001-2021 and the most recent outbreak bringing the number to 5. The reservoir host of Nipah virus is fruit bats specifically flying foxes, and the virus is related to another virus, Hendra virus, which causes fatal disease in horses. This zoonotic virus can be transmitted from bats or livestock to humans, typically via contaminated food (fruit or raw date palm sap), and person-to-person through respiratory secretions.

What do the symptoms look like?

The virus presents with symptoms such as fever, headache, cough, vomiting, and severe infection may be accompanied by brain swelling and seizures.

How is Nipah virus diagnosed?

An official diagnosis of Nipah virus will be the result of laboratory tests confirming virus from a suspected person. Laboratory tests used to diagnose Nipah include real time polymerase chain reaction (rt-PCR), virus isolation in a facility capable of handling high-consequence pathogens, and the utilization of enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) to detect antibodies.

What does treatment look like?

The treatment of Nipah virus consists of treatment of symptoms as they occur including pain management, respiratory support, hydration, and rest.

How can I prevent Nipah virus?

Nipah virus can be prevented by avoiding ingestion of fallen fruit and raw date palm sap, avoiding contact with sick animals, practicing regular hand hygiene, and using proper barrier and respiratory protection if caring for a presumed or confirmed case of Nipah virus infection.







Maegan Traveler is an Education Specialist for Education and Institutional Preparedness for the SPECTRE Program.


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