The state Health Department has confirmed Henipavirus (a genus of RNA viruses in the family Paramyxoviridae. Henipaviruses are bat-borne viruses, which include Hendra virus (HeV) and the Nipah virus (NiV), causing severe and often fatal disease in humans and animals) infection for the first time in Kerala with the blood and body fluid samples of two persons who died of viral fever in the past fortnight in Kozhikode district indicating the presence of the zoonotic disease. Nipah virus infection is a newly emerging zoonosis that causes severe disease in both animals and humans. The natural host of the virus are fruit bats of the Pteropodidae Family, Pteropus genus.
According to World Health Organization, NiV was first identified during an outbreak of disease that took place in Kampung Sungai Nipah, Malaysia in 1998. On this occasion, pigs were the intermediate hosts. However, in subsequent NiV outbreaks, there were no intermediate hosts. In Bangladesh in 2004, humans became infected with NiV as a result of consuming date palm sap that had been contaminated by infected fruit bats. Human-to-human transmission has also been documented, including in a hospital setting in India.
The sad part is that there is no treatment for this disease. No vaccines are available for animals and humans. The primary treatment for human cases is intensive supportive care.
Nipah virus infection can be prevented by avoiding exposure to sick pigs and bats in endemic areas and not drinking raw date palm sap and not consuming fruits that have fallen from trees.