What is Nipah virus? Know its symptoms, treatment and similarities with Covid-19

By | Written by Parmita Uniyal
Sep 06, 2021 06:55 PM IST

Those infected with Nipah virus may showcase Covid-like symptoms

A 24-year-old health worker who came into close contact with a Nipah patient tested positive on Wednesday taking the total number of positive cases in the state to five. As the state government has announced containment zones and restrictions to stop the spread of the virus, the contact list of the patients has become a reason for worry as 700 people have come into contact of the patients. Out of these 700, about 77 are in the high-risk category, Kerala health minister Veena George said.

Nipah virus was first detected in India in Siliguri, West Bengal in 2001.(File photo)
Nipah virus was first detected in India in Siliguri, West Bengal in 2001.(File photo)

What is Nipah virus

Nipah virus (NiV) can be described as a zoonotic virus, which is transmitted via animals to humans, and can also be transmitted via contaminated food or directly between people and is caused by fruit bats. Those infected with it can encounter severe problems like acute respiratory illness and fatal encephalitis. 

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It is not an airborne infection and in fact, is transmitted from bats and pigs. It is fatal not only for humans but animals too. 

Symptoms of Nipah virus

Those infected with Nipah virus may showcase Covid-like symptoms. The common symptoms of Nipah Virus are cough, sore throat, dizziness, drowsiness, muscle pain, tiredness, and encephalitis that is the swelling of the brain causing a headache, stiff neck, sensitivity to light, mental confusion, and seizures. One may also become unconscious and it can ultimately lead to death. 


There is no definite line of treatment available for this virus. On spotting the above symptoms, one will have to consult the doctor immediately who will confirm the diagnosis of this virus and help you with supportive care. You will also be prescribed medication by the doctor for taking care of encephalitis and other symptoms. Do not self-medicate as it can be risky and worsen your condition. 


Avoid eating fruits that have fallen on the ground as they may be contaminated or avoid coming in contact with infected animals and humans. There is no vaccine available to help you successfully get treated for this virus. Keep fruit bats away from you, avoid pig feeding, and stay healthy. If you have any doubts regarding the symptoms then contact your doctor.

(Inputs by Dr. Bipin Jibhkate, Consultant critical care medicine, and ICU director Wockhardt Hospital, Mira Road)

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