The Nipah virus first broke out in Malaysia and Singapore in 1998. It appeared first in domestic pigs, and was then later found in other domestic animals including dogs, cats, goats, horses, and sheep. The Nipah virus gets its name from the village in Malaysia where the first person to die from the disease was from.
Nipah spreads through fruit bats or ‘flying foxes’, who also spread the Hendra virus. The virus is found in bat urine, feces, saliva, and birthing fluids.
While the spread has been limited to from animal contact in Singapore and Malaysia, in Bangladesh and India there have been reports of human-to-human transmission of the disease. There is no specific treatment for the virus- the primary treatment is simply intensive support care.
Three people have now died in Kozhikode in Kerala as a result of the disease. The Central Government has sent a team to Kerala to address the potential outbreak.
Two of the victims were brothers, and the third one was a relative who had come to visit them in hospital. The highly contagious power of the disease has forced medical staff into taking extreme precautions while dealing with patients.
Eight other individuals, several of whom who had contact with the diseased, have been quarantined in a special ward at the Kozhikode Medical College.
Symptoms of the Nipah virus include breathing trouble, inflammation of the brain, fever, headache, drowsiness, disorientation, and delirium. A patient may slip into a coma within 48 hours of infection.
The mortality rate of the virus lies at a deadly 70 percent, which means that in every case, prevention is far more desirable than treatment.