About Nipah, the virus that has killed 10 in Kerala

Humans may contract disease when they come in direct contact with excretions or secretions of infectted domestic animals or bats

Nipah is a virus that is first believed to have appeared in Malaysia and Singapore at the end of the 20th century, and initially found to be affecting domestic animals including dogs, cats, goats, horses and pigs.

However, it also affects human beings, and is infectious.

It is caused by a ribonucleic acid virus of the family Paramyxoviridae, and is closely related to the Hendra virus.

The disease is spread through fruit bats which are known to be natural hosts of both the Nipah and Hendra viruses. Scientists believe that the virus is present in the bat saliva, bat faeces and perhaps even in their birthing fluids.

Humans may contract the disease when they come in direct contact with the excretions or secretions of affected domestic animals or infected bats.

Some of the symptoms of affected persons include fever, headache, drowsiness, and mental confusion.

There are no readily effective vaccines for the infection, but preventive measures are highly advised. Since bats are believed to be a key causative factor, preventing farm animals from eating fruits bitten by bats is advised.

Medical staff treating infected patients should necessarily wear masks and gloves and thoroughly wash their hands.

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