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General Studies 3 >> Science & Technology

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1. Context
Two people have died and four others are under treatment after contracting Nipah virus in Kerala’s Kozhikode district
2. Nipah Virus
  • Nipah virus (NiV) is a zoonotic virus that can spread between animals and people.
  • The natural host of NiV is fruit bats, also known as flying foxes.
  • NiV can also infect pigs and people
  • NiV infection can cause a range of illnesses, from asymptomatic infection to acute respiratory illness and fatal encephalitis. The case fatality rate for NiV infection is estimated to be between 40% and 75%
  • The symptoms of NiV infection typically appear 4-14 days after exposure to the virus. The initial symptoms are similar to those of the flu, including fever, headache, and cough.
  • In severe cases, the virus can cause encephalitis, which is a swelling of the brain. Encephalitis can lead to coma and death.
  • NiV can be transmitted from animals to people through contact with infected saliva, urine, or other bodily fluids.
  • It can also be transmitted through contact with contaminated food or water. Person-to-person transmission of NiV is possible, but it is rare.
  • Nipah virus outbreaks have been reported in several countries in Southeast Asia, including Malaysia, Bangladesh, India, and Singapore.
  • The virus has caused sporadic outbreaks, with varying levels of severity
Nipah Virus — The Jenner Institute
  • The first outbreaks of the Nipah virus among humans was reported from Malaysia (1998) and Singapore (1999).
  • The virus takes its name from the village in Malaysia where the person in whom the virus was first isolated died of the disease.
  • The transmission from animals happens mainly through consumption of contaminated food. According to the CDC, transmission can happen due to consumption of raw date palm sap or fruit that has been contaminated with saliva or urine from infected bats.
  • Some cases of NiV [Nipah] infection have also been reported among people who climb trees where bats often roost.
  • The animal host reservoir for this virus is known to be the fruit bat, commonly known as flying fox.
  • Fruit bats are known to transmit this virus to other animals like pigs, and also dogs, cats, goats, horses and sheep
  • Humans get infected mainly through direct contact with these animals, or through consumption of food contaminated by saliva or urine of these infected animals
  • Since it was first identified in 1998-99, there have been multiple outbreaks of the Nipah virus, all of them in South and Southeast Asian nations. In Bangladesh, there have been at least 10 outbreaks since 2001.
    In India, West Bengal had seen an outbreak in 2001 and 2007, while Kerala had reported several cases in 2018, and isolated cases in 2019 and 2021.
4. Zoonotic diseases

Zoonotic diseases, also known as zoonoses, are infectious diseases that can be transmitted between animals and humans. These diseases can be caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi, and they pose a significant public health concern worldwide. Zoonotic diseases can be transmitted through direct or indirect contact with infected animals, their secretions, or contaminated environments. Some common examples of zoonotic diseases include:

  1. Influenza: Various strains of influenza viruses can infect both animals and humans. Influenza viruses can undergo genetic changes, leading to new strains that have the potential to cause pandemics.

  2. Rabies: Rabies is a viral disease that primarily affects mammals, including bats, dogs, and raccoons. It is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected animal and can be fatal if not treated promptly.

  3. Salmonellosis: Caused by the bacterium Salmonella, this disease is often associated with contaminated food products, particularly those of animal origin such as poultry and eggs.

  4. Lyme Disease: Transmitted by ticks, Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is commonly found in wildlife, particularly deer. Humans can become infected when bitten by an infected tick.

  5. West Nile Virus: This mosquito-borne virus primarily circulates among birds but can be transmitted to humans through mosquito bites, leading to fever and, in some cases, severe neurological complications.

  6. E. coli Infections: Certain strains of Escherichia coli (E. coli) can cause gastrointestinal illness in humans. Contaminated food and water, as well as contact with infected animals, can lead to E. coli infections.

  7. HIV/AIDS: While the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is primarily transmitted among humans, it is believed to have originated from the transfer of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) from non-human primates to humans, making it a zoonotic disease.

  8. COVID-19: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, is believed to have originated in bats and was likely transmitted to humans through an intermediate animal host, highlighting the zoonotic nature of the virus.

5. Way forward
Nipah virus is considered a serious public health concern due to its high mortality rate, the potential for person-to-person transmission, and the lack of specific treatments or vaccines. Surveillance and research efforts are ongoing to better understand and combat this virus. It's essential to stay updated on the latest information and follow public health guidelines if you live in or travel to regions where Nipah virus is known to be present.
For Prelims: Viruses, Bacteria, Immunity, Vaccine types
For Mains: 1.Discuss the challenges in controlling viral diseases and the strategies employed by governments and international organizations in addressing viral epidemics. Highlight the lessons learned from recent viral outbreaks
2.Analyze the global problem of antibiotic resistance and its implications for healthcare. Suggest policy measures and interventions to combat the growing threat of antibiotic-resistant bacteria
Previous Year Questions
1.Viruses can affect (UPSC CSE 2016)
2. Fungi
3. Plants
Select the correct code with the following code
A.1 and 2 only
B. 3 Only
C. 1 and 3
D. 1, 2, 3
Answer (D)
2. Which of the following statements is/ are correct? (UPSC CSE 2013)
1. Viruses lack enzymes necessary for the generation of energy
2.Viruses can be cultured in any synthetic medium
3.Viruses are transmitted from one organism to another by biological vectors only 
Select the correct answer using the code given below
A. 1 Only
B. 2 and 3
C. 1 and 3
D. 1, 2, 3
Answer (A)
Source: indianexpress

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