Nipah Virus How It Started in Malaysia

Nipah Virus: How It Started in Malaysia

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The dangerous Nipah virus has spread to the Indian state of Kerala. Two of the five people who got sick with the virus have died.

In the Kozhikode district, where the spread happened, schools have been closed, and “containment zones” have been set up by the government. Seventy-six people who came in touch with the sick are being¬†closely watched for signs¬†of the disease.

This is Kerala’s fourth case of the Nipah virus. In 2018, there were 18 lab-confirmed cases and 5 possible cases, and¬†17 of those people died.

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The Nipah virus is a member of the family Paramyxoviridae. It is an RNA virus. The first human infection was found in Malaysia. There were 265 cases and 105 deaths. Since then, there have been about one or two cases each year. More than half of those who get sick from it die.

Most outbreaks have been seen in Bangladesh but also in India, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines.

The number of Nipah virus infections with no symptoms varies from 17% to 45%, depending on the outbreak. When the virus does cause sickness, encephalitis (brain swelling) is the main symptom. Patients get a fever and say they have a terrible headache. Many also feel disoriented, sleepy, and confused. A chest infection can also happen to some people.

How do people catch the disease?

In the first outbreak in Malaysia, the main risk factor was contact with pigs or being a pig farmer. However, there was no proof that the disease could be passed from person to person. At the time, no one knew why pigs started spreading the disease.

Since the first outbreak, we’ve learned more about the virus and what makes it more likely to spread to people. Now, everyone agrees that the Indian flying fox, a type of¬†fruit bat, is the main home for the Nipah virus. Nipah virus has been found in¬†bats in Kerala¬†in the past.

Most infections are thought to come from touching an infected animal. This could be a fruit bat or an animal in between, like a pig, as in the first outbreak in Malaysia. But each spread is different in interesting ways. Bangladesh has a tradition of drinking either raw or cooked date palm sap.

In one study done in Bangladesh, motion-sensor infrared cameras were used to show that fruit bats often went to the date palms, where people got date palm sap to eat.

At first, it was thought that the Nipah virus didn’t spread from person to person because¬†no healthcare workers got sick during the big outbreak¬†in Malaysia. Since then, there have been reports of healthcare workers getting the infection. For example, in this most recent outbreak, one of the deaths was a healthcare worker who had treated a person who had the virus.

The virus is deadly, but it doesn’t spread quickly.

A study of 248 people who got the Nipah virus in Bangladesh over several years found that about a third got it from another person. The experts guessed that the R-value, the number of people an infected person is likely to pass the disease to, is about 0.33. This means the infection is unlikely to spread far from the animal source.

Even though the Nipah virus is deadly, there is no evidence that it will spread far from places where people or their animals come into touch with infected bats. But Nipah virus outbreaks may be another sign that habitat loss caused by humans causes more contact between people and animals, which increases the risk of transmission from animals to humans.

Even though the R-value is low, if infected animals were moved to big cities, the higher population density would increase the chance of person-to-person transmission. This could cause the virus to change and spread more easily from person to person, leading to a new pandemic.

Can it be cured?

Since there are no specific drugs to treat the Nipah virus, medical care is just “supportive.” This means doctors treat patients’ symptoms and make them as comfortable as possible until they get better.

Some treatments may work, at least in animal tests, but few studies have been done on people. A small trial of the drug ribavirin showed that it might reduce deaths, but more research needs to be done.

When given early enough during a Nipah virus infection, a targeted treatment called monoclonal antibodies has been shown to reduce the death rate of green monkeys. However, no studies have shown how well these drugs work on people with the Nipah virus.

Still, the Indian government is buying monoclonal antibodies from Australia for the present outbreak.

There are no vaccines for the Nipah virus, but an mRNA vaccine is being tried on humans.


Anisa is a writer who focuses on career and lifestyle topics in an effort to motivate both job searchers and employers towards greater fulfillment in their professional lives.

Reach me at anisa@jobstore.com.

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