The re-emergence of the Nipah virus in Kerala poses a fresh risk in the state that is already struggling with the Covid-19 pandemic, contributing about 60% of all new cases in the country these days.
However, this is not the first time that Nipah virus has been detected in Kerala, or elsewhere in India, and previous outbreaks have remained largely localised and have been contained relatively quickly.
What is the Nipah virus?
- The first outbreaks of the virus among humans was reported from Malaysia (1998) and Singapore (1999). The virus takes its name from the village in Malaysia where the person in whom the virus was first isolated died of the disease.
- Since it was first identified in 1998-99, there have been multiple outbreaks of the Nipah virus, all of them in South and Southeast Asian nations. In Bangladesh, there have been at least 10 outbreaks since 2001.
- In India, West Bengal had seen an outbreak in 2001 and 2007, while Kerala had reported several cases in 2018.
How does Nipah virus spread?
- Zoonotic virus
- Transmitted from animals to human through consumption of contaminated food
- Human-to-human transmission is also considered possible
- Animal host reservoir- fruit bat, commonly known as flying fox
- Fruit bats are known to transmit this virus to other animals like pigs, and also dogs, cats, goats, horses and sheep.
- Spread far more slowly than SARS-CoV-2
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