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Year : 2018  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 275-283

Nipah virus epidemic in southern India and emphasizing “One Health” approach to ensure global health security

1 Department of Public Health, Faculty of Medical Sciences, The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago
2 Academy of Family Physicians of India, New Delhi, India
3 Health Researcher, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago
4 Global Health Researcher, University of San Francisco, California, USA
5 Medical Laboratory Specialist, Etobicoke, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Correspondence Address:
Vijay K Chattu
Faculty of Medical Sciences, The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine
Trinidad and Tobago
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jfmpc.jfmpc_137_18

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Nipah virus (NiV) encephalitis first reported in “Sungai Nipah” in Malaysia in 1999 has emerged as a global public health threat in the Southeast Asia region. From 1998 to 2018, more than 630 cases of NiV human infections were reported. NiV is transmitted by zoonotic (from bats to humans, or from bats to pigs, and then to humans) as well as human-to-human routes. Deforestation and urbanization of some areas have contributed to greater overlap between human and bat habitats resulting in NiV outbreaks. Common symptoms of NiV infection in humans are similar to that of influenza such as fever and muscle pain and in some cases, the inflammation of the brain occurs leading to encephalitis. The recent epidemic in May 2018 in Kerala for the first time has killed over 17 people in 7 days with high case fatality and highlighted the importance of One Health approach. The diagnosis is often not suspected at the time of presentation and creates challenges in outbreak detection, timely control measures, and outbreak response activities. Currently, there are no drugs or vaccines specific for NiV infection although this is a priority disease on the World Health Organization's agenda. Antivirals (Ribavirin, HR2-based fusion inhibitor), biologicals (convalescent plasma, monoclonal antibodies), immunomodulators, and intensive supportive care are the mainstay to treat severe respiratory and neurologic complications. There is a great need for strengthening animal health surveillance system, using a One Health approach, to detect new cases and provide early warning for veterinary and human public health authorities.

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