Changing climate due to rapid urbanization has led to the outbreak of Nipah Virus for the third time in India.
After 2001 and 2007 viral attacks, Nipah virus has once again triggered in Southern India recently. The health officials are extensively working on the emerged cases which have taken the lives of more than 10 people. The natural science experts are busy in understanding the reasons behind the emergence of virus again and again in the continent. According to a specialized team headed by A.C.Dhariwal, adviser, National Vector Borne Disease Control Program, due to rapid urbanization in many Indian states, the birds and animals are losing their natural habitats which are making them get in contact with humans. The team has also suggested that such exposure of humans with animals will be a threat to many other dangerous diseases.
First emergence of Nipah Virus:
Nipah virus was first discovered in the year 1998 in one of the villages of Malaysia and it belongs to Henipavirus category which is a subfamily of Paramyxovirinae. During that time, both animals to human and human to human transmission of the disease was recorded. Since its first outbreak till 2015, around 600 humans were infected with this virus. Subsequently, it was identified in the Meherpur district of Bangladesh in the year 2001 and reported continuous attack thereon every year, in the selected districts of Bangladesh.
Bangladesh, being a neighbouring country to India, has also affected the eastern state of West Bengal in the year 2001 & 2007. During these two outbreaks, around 71 cases were reported that led to 50 deaths.
How Nipah emerged and passed from animals to humans?
The first transmission of NiV in Malaysia was from pigs to humans, whereas, in Bangladesh and India, NiV transmitted from bats to humans. It was observed that in Asian states of Bangladesh and India, the consumption of date palm sap which is contaminated by bat urine or saliva is the major reason for the spread of the disease. Even though humans and bats co-existed since ancient times, experts claim the existence of Nipah virus in the bats for centuries. But they are not able to understand the reason for the outspread of the infection only now. They claim that the intervention of humans in the bat-infested areas as a process of urbanization is the major reason for the spread of NiV. The mismanagement of large piggeries and the unplanned deforestation of pulpwood in the districts of Malasia which is the natural habitat of bats infected with NiV are assumed to be the causes of transmission of Nipah from animals to humans.
In 2007, around 30 cases were reported in West Bengal of which 5 appeared to be fatal. A horde of bats was observed hanging on the trees in the nearby surroundings of the patients’ houses and these bats fluids were expected to get in direct contact with the liquor which was consumed by the residents.
As of now, there is no protective vaccine or treatment for this life-threat disease. Proper prevention is the only suggestive measure which has been advised by our health experts.