Nipah outbreak in Kerala

To the Point

1. What is Nipah virus?

2. How common are Nipah outbreaks?

3. What are the symptoms & how dangerous Nipah virus?


Discussion on NiV Virus

1. What is Nipah virus?

  • Nipah virus (NiV) is a ‘zoonotic’ virus.

  • It is transmitted to human beings from animals.

  • The virus can also be transmitted through contaminated food, or directly between people.

  • The pathogen that causes NiV encephalitis is an RNA virus of the family Paramyxoviridae.

  • Genus Henipavirus, and which is closely related to the Hendra virus (HeV).

  • The animal host reservoir for both HeV and NiV is the fruit bat (genus Pteropus), which is commonly known as the ‘flying fox’.

  • Infected fruit bats can spread the disease to other animals as well, such as pigs and also dogs, cats, goats, horses and sheep.

  • Human beings can get infected if they come in close contact with the infected animal  bats or other animals such as pigs

  • Body fluids such as saliva or urine ,initial jump of the virus from animal to human is known as a ‘spillover’ event in an outbreak.


Brief background

How common are Nipah outbreaks?

  • The first outbreak was reported in Malaysia and Singapore in 1998-99.


  • The name Nipah came from the name of the village in Malaysia.

  • The virus appeared initially in domesticated pigs in this first outbreak.

  • Nearly 300 humans were infected, and more than 100 died.

  • Million pigs were culled to contain the spread of the infection.

  • India and Bangladesh have seen multiple outbreaks of NiV.

  • In Bangladesh, the virus appeared in 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011.

  • In India, the outbreaks have so far been limited to West Bengal and Kerala.


3. What are the symptoms & how dangerous Nipah virus?

  • NiV infection can cause a mild to severe disease, which in the latter situation sees a major swelling in the brain (encephalitis), and can lead to death.

  • Symptoms of the infection can appear at any time from four days to two weeks after exposure to the virus.

  • Patients usually report a fever and headache that can last from three days to a couple of weeks, accompanied by symptoms of respiratory illness such as cough, sore throat, and difficulty in breathing.

  • If the disease progresses to encephalitis, the patient may experience drowsiness, disorientation, and mental confusion, which can then progress very quickly to a coma within 1-2 days.


  • Between 40 per cent and 75 per cent of cases can lead to death, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).


  • At present Nipah outbreak in Kerala mitigate with Micro-level restrictions containment strategies.

Source: IE

Nipah outbreak in Kerala, COVID, Nipah virus.