Since fruit bats in other States have tested positive for Nipah virus antibodies, it is possible that Nipah virus infection and fatalities are occurring elsewhere undiscovered while being discovered in Kerala, particularly in the Kozhikode area. There have been three further Kerala Nipah Virus Outbreaks after Kerala officially announced the first one in Kozhikode district in May 2018, the most recent of which occurred in late August 2023. Three of Kerala’s four Nipah outbreaks those in 2018, 2021, and 2023 have occurred in the Kozhikode district, whereas the epidemic in 2019 occurred in the Ernakulam area, for reasons that are yet unclear.
Kerala Nipah Virus Outbreak
The Nipah virus has caused four devastating Kerala Nipah Virus Outbreak, in a state in Southern India, since 2018. After two fatalities linked to the virus, authorities became aware of the epidemic. Mohammed Ali, age 49, passed away on August 30 in the hamlet of Maruthonkara, while Mangalatt Haris, age 40, passed away on September 11 in the city of Ayanchery. Test findings on September 13 proved that both males had succumbed to Nipah. Authorities used normal nasal swabs to screen for the infection.
They were prompted to do a viral test due to a confluence of flu-like and neurological symptoms, including headache, fever, coughing up blood, severe respiratory distress, and seizures. However, according to Dr. Thekkumkar Surendran Anish, associate professor for community medicine at the Government Medical College in Manjeri, Kerala, who is in charge of the state’s surveillance team and who talked to NPR about the matter, there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission during the Malaysian Kerala Nipah Virus Outbreak.
Nipah Virus Symptoms
Although seizures and brain inflammation that cause a coma may occur in extreme instances, symptoms often include a high temperature, vomiting, and a respiratory infection.
For Nipah, there is no vaccination. According to the WHO, patient fatality rates range from 40 to 75 percent depending on the public health response to the infection.
How to prevent the Nipah virus?
- Nipah virus vaccines are unavailable. Based on past outbreaks, frequent and thorough pig farm cleaning and disinfection with proper detergents may prevent infection.
- If an animal epidemic is detected, quarantine the premises. To lessen the likelihood of transmission to humans, the World Health Organisation recommends “culling of infected animals with close supervision of burial or incineration of carcasses.”
- Without NiV-specific vaccinations, increasing awareness of risk factors and teaching correct precautions is the only approach to decrease or prevent infections between individuals, together with regular disease safety measures.
- Washing and peeling fruits before eating them reduces the possibility of worldwide transmission from infected fruit bats. Discard bat-bitten fruit.
What happened during previous Nipah outbreaks?
- The first Nipah epidemic in Malaysia killed over 100 people and forced the slaughter of one million pigs.
- It expanded to Singapore, where abattoir employees who handled Malaysian pigs had 11 illnesses and one fatality.
- After 2001, Bangladesh and India have reported most incidences of the illness.
- Nipah has killed over 100 individuals in Bangladesh since 2001.
- Two early Indian epidemics killed over 50 individuals before being contained.
- Two Nipah fatalities and four cases have been reported in Kerala since last month.
- Authorities closed schools and conducted mass testing.
- This is Kerala’s fourth Nipah outbreak in five years. When it initially appeared in 2018, the virus killed 17.
Who response to the Nipah virus
- The International Health Regulations (IHR 2005) required WHO to be informed on 23 May 2018 and publish a Disease Outbreak News on 31 May 2018.
- The Ministry of Health and Kerala State health authorities received Nipah virus illness technical resources and assistance from WHO.
- WHO works collaboratively with the Ministry of Health to improve indicator- and event-based monitoring for epidemic-prone illnesses and IHR (2005) capacity.
- WHO is also collaborating with ICMR to progress the Nipah R&D plan research goal. WHO will continue to collaborate with the Ministry of Health to improve the health system.
Two Tricks are the Key to Nipah’s Persistence
Bangladesh has suffered 20 years of terrifying, almost annual epidemics that have killed over 200 people. Nipah remains untreated No vaccination. This virus remains on the WHO’s pandemic list. Because of its two primary tricks.
- Firstly, it may switch species. “We’ve shown cattle, goats, pigs, cats, and dogs can get Nipah and have it in Bangladesh,” adds Gurley. “Unsure how.” She suggests sap or spilled fruit. Pigs and carnivores may eat bat carcasses or placentas. “We’re starting a new study to figure this out,” adds Gurley.
- The second trick is that Nipah spreads. Since the virus kills its host, Nipah hasn’t done well at that. Despite practically annual outbreaks in Bangladesh (with a bigger one every four or five years), each has faded quickly. Each time Nipah jumps from bat to human, it has another opportunity to discover the appropriate mutations to become more transmissible and cause a pandemic.