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Getting to Know the Nipah Virus which Causes Death in India, is it Possible for it to Enter Indonesia?

The southern Indian state of Keralahas closed schools and offices and declared quarantine zones at several points. This decision was taken considering the risk of an outbreak of the Nipah virus which is reported to damage the brain and even take lives. The Kerala state health ministry finally implemented strict isolation rules starting Wednesday, September 13 2023.

Back to September 4, 2021, the Kerala State Health Department reported an isolated case of Nipah virus disease in Kozhikode district, Kerala state, India. According to the World Health Organization or WHO, Nipah has a relatively high case fatality ratio.

WHO explains that the Nipah virus (NiV) is a zoonotic virus or a virus that is transmitted from animals to humans and can be transmitted through contaminated food or directly between humans. If someone is infected, various diseases will appear. These range from asymptomatic infections to acute respiratory illnesses and fatal encephalitis. Not only that, NiV can cause severe disease in animals.

Early symptoms of NiV infection include fever, headache, muscle aches, vomiting and sore throat. These symptoms may be accompanied by dizziness, drowsiness, altered consciousness and neurological signs indicating acute encephalitis. Encephalitis and seizures occur in severe cases, and can progress to coma within 24 to 48 hours. In addition, some people may experience atypical pneumonia and severe respiratory problems, including acute respiratory distress. 

The length of time from infection to the onset of symptoms or NiV incubation is believed to be around 4 to 14 days. However, WHO said, there were also reports with an incubation period of 45 days.

The estimated death rate for this case reaches 40 percent to 75 percent. However, this figure can vary from one outbreak to another. Everything depends on local capabilities in carrying out epidemiological surveillance and clinical management.

According to WHO, the early signs and symptoms of Nipah virus infection are non-specific, which can hinder accurate diagnosis and become a challenge in detecting outbreaks. In addition, it is hampered in taking effective and timely control measures.

The presence of Nipah virus infection can be diagnosed by clinical history during the acute and healing phases of the disease. In the process, the main tests carried out are real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) from body fluids and antibody detection via enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). There is also isolation of the virus by cell culture.

Is it possible for the Nipah virus to reach Indonesia?

The Nipah virus itself is carried by fruit bats from the Pteropodidae family, especially those belonging to the Pteropus genus .

WHO assumes that the geographic distribution of Henipavirus overlaps with the geographic distribution of the Pteropus category. This hypothesis is strengthened by evidence of Henipavirus infection in Pteropus bats from Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Thailand and Timor Leste.

According to doctor Agung Dwi Wahyu Widodo from Dr. Soetomo, Pteropus bats can be found in Indonesia. Thus, there is a possibility that this virus will develop in Indonesia and cause new problems. Plus, this virus can be transmitted from animals to humans and vice versa.

“WHO also said that bats in Indonesia have antibodies against the Nipah virus. So, in fact, they also have the opportunity to be a source of virus transmission,” said Agung.

Source : Tempo.co