Nipah virus is 'highly contagious' after transmission from animals to humans: AIIMS experttext_fields
New Delhi: As Kerala witnessed its first Nipah virus fatality with the death of a 12-year-old in Kozhikode district on Sunday, experts have highlighted the need for detection of the source of transmission of the virus, according to ANI.
Experts have warned that the Nipah virus is "highly contagious" after it gets transmitted from animals to humans and they "don't have specific treatment" for it. High morbidity and mortality rates have been witnessed in humans.
As per Dr Ashutosh Biswas, Professor, Department of Medicine at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), the fruit bats are the carriers of the virus.
Further, Dr Biswas said that Nipah is a zoonotic disease and the animals are its carriers, especially fruit bats.
Highlighting the importance of detecting the source, Mr Biswas said, "Once this virus gets into human circulation, it starts to transmit from human-to-human and the transmission is so fast that it can spill over. Therefore, it is important to identify the source in the beginning. As indicated, most of the time, we have found that the transmission is from fruit bats."
He also added that the temptation of eating fallen fruit, especially without washing it is dangerous and is also the first step from where spillover from animal to human begins.
According to the World Health Organization, the Nipah virus infection is caused by fruit bats and is potentially fatal to humans as well as animals. Along with respiratory illnesses, the virus can also cause fever, muscular pain, headache, fever, dizziness, and nausea.
"We have had two Nipah virus outbreaks before this one; once in Kerala, once in West Bengal. During the last outbreak, about 90 per cent of the infected persons died. Then in 2019, we had just 1 case of the virus, and now in 2021, we have got another case, a very fatal one. So, it is important to understand why it is happening," Biswas said.
On September 5, the Central government rushed a medical team to the Kozhikode district of Kerala when the state reported the first death due to the Nipah virus. The team also visited the house of the boy who died of the virus and collected samples of Rambutan fruits from the vicinity to identify the source of the infection.