What is NIPAH virus?


NIPAH virus is a zoonotic (animal) pathogen first discovered in Nipah village, Malaysia in 1998. It is primarily found in bats but other animals (eg pigs) can act as intermediaries.

It has caused outbreaks in West Bengal since 2001 & Kerala since 2018.

Why is there a focus on it in India?

Kerala Health department sounded a health alert on 11/09/2023 after two unnatural deaths due to fever in Kozhikode District suspecting NIPAH virus infection. Similar outbreak were reported in the district in 2018 and 2021. It has a potential for epidemic outbreaks.

Causes and transmission

It is transmitted to humans as a spillover transmission from bats, either directly via bat to human contact, their secretions (urine, saliva), or indirectly through intermediate animal hosts like pigs, via respiratory secretion and urine

Human to human transmission can occur depending on the strain of the virus.

Sign and symptoms:

It primarily causes encephalitis and/or respiratory syndrome with high mortality. It has an incubation period of 7-40 days.

Fever, headache, myalgia, nausea, vomiting, meningismus (neck stiffness), abnormal movements especially in upper limbs (myoclonus), tremors, ataxia ultimately leading to deterioration in consciousness and Coma.

Respiratory disease usually presents with cough, breathlessness, respiratory distress.

Dr. V. K. Singh, Prof & HOD, General Medicine, Teerthanker Mahaveer College & Research Centre

Is it Fatal

Case fatality is as high as 40-75%. Survivors may have neurological sequelae like fatigue, day time sleepiness.


Supportive care in mainstay of treatment

No antiviral therapy has been proven to be effective.

Ribavarin is in experimental stages as are some potential vaccine candidates.


  • Prevention in the best
  • Avoid expose to bats, avoid raw palm sap (TARI) – common cultural beverage in Kerala
  • Protective clothing, gloves to be used while handling sick animals and animal
  • Avoiding close unprotected physical contact with