What is Nipah virus (NiV) infection: Disease Definition
Nipah virus (NiV) infection is a newly emerging disease that can cause severe problems in both animals and humans. It is caused by the Nipah virus. The natural host of Nipah virus are fruit bats of the Pteropodidae Family, Pteropus genus.
Nipah virus disease is mainly found in south Asia. Sporadic outbreaks have been particularly noted in Malaysia, Singapore, India, and Bangladesh since the virus was first discovered in 1999. It is not a common disease. Less than 20 cases are typically reported per year worldwide, although systematic surveillance to monitor the outcomes is lacking.
Nipah virus is a member of the Paramyxoviridae family, genus Henipavirus. The virus is found in in fruit bats (Pteropus genus), which may infect humans through direct exposure to their secretions such as saliva or excreta. This can spread even through their contaminated food, especially palm tree sap that have been contaminated by bats.
Bats may transmit the virus to intermediate hosts as well, particularly pigs. They develop respiratory disease and neurological problems and may pass the virus on to humans. Evidences of infection have also been found in other animals such as cats, dogs and horses.
Swine farmers and abattoir workers are at high risk of developing the infection. Human-to-human transmission has been noted in some later outbreaks.
Management and treatment
Infected persons should be isolated and due precautions should be taken. Precautions can include such as use of face shields, surgical masks, gloves, surgical gowns and aprons etc to prevent transmission.
Currently, there is no antiviral drug available for Nipah virus disease. The treatment involves supportive care. Ribavirin has been tried and looks effective but its efficacy for Nipah virus disease has not yet been fully determined.