According to the WHO, Nipah virus is a newly emerging disease that can be transmitted from its reservoir (natural wildlife host), the flying foxes (fruit bats), to both animals and humans.
It takes its name from Sungai Nipah, a village in Malaysia where it was first identified.
Human infections can range from asymptomatic infection, acute respiratory infection (mild, severe), and fatal encephalitis.
Infected people initially develop influenza-like symptoms of fever, headache, myalgia, vomiting and sore throat.
This can be followed by dizziness, drowsiness, altered consciousness, and neurological signs that indicate acute encephalitis.
Some people can also experience atypical pneumonia and severe respiratory problems, including acute respiratory distress.
Encephalitis and seizures occur in severe cases, progressing to coma within 24 to 48 hours.
The WHO said, “In the outbreak in Kerala, we are seeing patients with encephalitis, myocarditis and acute respiratory infection.”
On May 19, 2018, Nipah virus disease (NiV) outbreak was reported from Kozhikode in Malappuram district.
As per state government figures, the Nipah virus had claimed 17 lives — 14 in Kozhikode and three in neighbouring Malappuram in May last year.