EXCLUSIVE: Here's all about Nipah virus

Updated on Sep 07, 2021 07:04 AM IST  |  92.5K
All about Nipah virus
Prevention is the best possible way to fight Nipah virus

The death of a 12-year-old boy due to the Nipah Virus in Kozhikode, Kerala has rung alarm bells. While the State is still grappling with what seems to be a third COVID-19 wave, the arrival of the Nipah virus is adding to the horror.

Not as infectious as COVID, but definitely more lethal, Nipah calls for strict measures in place to stop it from spreading. This has got the Health Department on its toes, which is busy tracing all the suspected people who came in contact with the boy. So far, the department has reportedly traced 158 people, out of whom 20 fall in the high-risk category.

What is Nipah?

Dr. Tarun Sahni, Internal Medicine Specialist, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi, tells you that it is COVID-like influenza and is a zoonotic virus, which means it doesn’t fly on its own. It is usually transmitted from animals to humans. The animals that are usually infected with the Nipah virus are bats and pigs.

“These are the vectors. Anybody who might have got in contact with a pig or a bat is likely to be exposed to it. Also, there are a lot of fruits on which these bats are found resting,” explains Sahni.

Signs and symptoms

Since, it is an influenza and the early signs resemble somewhat COVID, which are cough, cold, runny nose, fever, and fatigue.


Progression of the disease

The Nipah virus can quickly progress and cause brain fever or meningitis. “The progression is rapid and the incidents of death are also high. Almost 70 percent people can succumb to this virus,” says Sahni.

Now, how to differentiate between whether it is a viral, COVID, or Nipah?

“Nipah can only be tested in special laboratories. The doctor usually analyses the signs and symptoms and accordingly suggests. Brain fever is the only symptom that can help identify Nipah. So, one should not ignore any signs and symptoms and get in touch with a doctor at the earliest,” suggests Sahni.


The primary line of protection is to wash your hands at frequent intervals, clean fruits, and vegetables thoroughly before use, and avoid getting in contact with the vectors.

“We have to raise our guards because now it is not only COVID, but also the Nipah virus too that we have to fight. Though it is not as infectious as COVID, it is certainly dangerous,” opines Sahni.


High-risk category

There is no such proven high-risk category for Nipah. Everyone can get infected with it. “It may be only with time that we can draw such conclusions but it is too early to say right now,” Sahni tells you.


There is no vaccine yet for the Nipah virus. Some drugs can help like Ribavirin, and monoclonal antibodies, but trials are still going on for this. “There is no well-established protocol to treat Nipah virus. Also, there’s no sufficient data available for it. Hence, the only strong line of defence is to follow all the precautions at all cost,” says Sahni.

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