Nipah Virus (NiV) : Everything you need to know!

Nipah virus, NiV is a zoonotic virus (transmitted from animals to humans).  It is a type of RNA virus in the genus Henipavirus. It can be transmitted through contaminated food or directly between people. The disease was first identified in 1998 during an outbreak in Malaysia while the virus was isolated in 1999.

*This article will have more biological terms which can be easily be understood by any science student but you can google such terms for more information.

Key Points

  • Nipah virus can be transmitted to humans from animals (such as bats or pigs), or contaminated foods and can also be transmitted directly from human-to-human.
  • Fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are the natural host of Nipah virus.
  • Nipah virus infection in humans causes a range of clinical presentations, from asymptomatic infection to acute respiratory infection and fatal encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).
  • The case fatality rate is estimated at 40% to 75%. This rate can vary depending on local capabilities for epidemiological surveillance and clinical management.
  • There is no treatment or vaccine available for either people or animals. The primary treatment for humans is supportive care.
  • WHO indicates that there is an urgent need for accelerated research and development for the Nipah virus.

Natural host: fruit bats

Fruit bats of the family of the Pteropodidae Family, Pteropus Genus.are the natural hosts for Nipah virus. There is no apparent disease in fruit bats.  The Nipah virus is a type of RNA virus-like EBOLA, HIV and Zika virus etc.

Transmission of Nipah Virus

It can both spread between people and from other animals to people. Most human infections resulted from direct contact with sick pigs or their contaminated tissues. Transmission is thought to have occurred via unprotected exposure to secretions from the pigs, or unprotected contact with the tissue of a sick animal.

Burying a victim of the Nipah virus
Burying a victim of the Nipah virus

Consumption of fruits or fruit products such as raw date palm juice contaminated with urine or saliva from infected fruit bats was the most likely source of infection. Human-to-human transmission of Nipah virus has also been reported among family and caregivers of infected patients.

Signs & Symptoms

Structure of Henipavirus
Structure of Henipavirus

The incubation period (interval from infection to the onset of symptoms) is believed to range from 4 to 14 days. It means symptoms start to appear within 4–14 days after exposure. Initial symptoms are fever, headache, myalgia (muscle pain), vomiting and sore throat. This can be followed by dizziness, drowsiness, altered consciousness, and neurological signs that indicate acute encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). These symptoms can also progress into the coma.

We don’t suggest you to google the symptoms of any disease. It is always better to consult your doctor if you feel sick. Rather you could have a simple fever and Google can suggest you have cancer.


The main tests used are real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) from bodily fluids and antibody detection via enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). IgG and IgM antibody detection can be done after recovery to confirm Nipah virus infection.


Currently, there are no vaccines available against Nipah virus. Prevention of Nipah virus infection is important since there is no effective treatment for the disease.

The infection can be prevented by avoiding exposure to bats in endemic areas and sick pigs. Drinking of raw palm sap contaminated by bat excrete, eating of fruits partially consumed by bats and using water from wells infested by bats should be avoided.

Nipah Virus test
Nipah Virus test

In the absence of a vaccine, the only way to reduce or prevent infection in people is by raising awareness of the risk factors and educating people about the measures they can take to reduce exposure to the Nipah virus.

Good news is that WHO is supporting affected and at-risk countries with technical guidance on how to manage outbreaks of Nipah virus and on how to prevent their occurrence.

We could only say that you should share this information as much as possible so that your loved one will be safe from the next epidemic.

Rakesh Barwar
Rakesh Barwar
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Last DNA. My passion for technology and biotechnology give rise to this awesome site. I write articles that can be easily understood by a majority of people, therefore making biotech simple and interesting!



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