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A 12-year-old boy died in a private hospital in Kozhikode Kerala infected with the Nipah virus .

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A 12-year-old boy died in a private hospital in Kozhikode on Sunday (September 5), after being infected with the Nipah virus. The boy presented symptoms of encephalitis and myocarditis — inflammation of the brain and heart muscles respectively.

The first Nipah virus outbreak in south India had been reported in Kozhikode district in May 2018, spreading subsequently to Malappuram. Seventeen people died in the 2018 Nipah outbreak. A Nipah case was reported in Ernakulam district in 2019. The first two Nipah outbreaks in India were reported in West Bengal, in 2001 and 2007.

What is Nipah Virus?

Nipah virus (NiV) infection is a zoonosis. NiV, a member of the Paramyxoviridae family, is a zoonotic virus, which means it can transfer from animals to people.

NiV was first identified during an outbreak in Kampung Sungai Nipah, Malaysia, in 1998. All subsequent outbreaks have occurred in South Asia (India, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Singapore).

Hosts:

Fruit bats of the family Pteropodidae – particularly species belonging to the Pteropus genus – are the natural hosts for the Nipah virus. There is no apparent disease in fruit bats.

It is assumed that the geographic distribution of Henipaviruses overlaps with that of the Pteropus category. This hypothesis was reinforced with the evidence of Henipavirus infection in Pteropus bats from Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Thailand and Timor-Leste.

Infected fruit bats can spread the disease to people or other animals, such as pigs. People can become infected if they have close contact with an infected animal or its body fluids (such as saliva or urine)—this initial spread from an animal to a person is known as a spillover event. Once it spreads to people, the person-to-person spread of NiV can also occur.

What are its symptoms?

Human infections range from asymptomatic infection to acute respiratory infection (mild, severe), and fatal encephalitis.

Infected people initially develop symptoms including fever, headaches, myalgia (muscle pain), 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.


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