How Nipah Virus Got Its Name: A Story of a Deadly Virus and a Small Village
How Nipah Virus Got Its Name: A Story of a Deadly Virus and a Small Village

Nipah virus is a serious public health threat in several countries in South and Southeast Asia, including Bangladesh, India, and the Philippines.

Nipah virus (NiV) is a highly contagious and deadly virus. It is a zoonotic virus, meaning that it can be transmitted from animals to humans. Fruit bats, sometimes referred to as flying foxes (genus Pteropus), are the Nipah virus’s natural reservoir. The virus can be transferred from infected fruit bats to humans or other animals, including pigs. There are currently four active instances of this virus in Kerala, and the Kozikhode district has recorded two fatalities. This occurred one year after the nation successfully fought off the extremely contagious and deadly COVID-19 virus.

As the virus is spreading its tentacles across the states in the country, it is important to understand the virus and its behaviour. From symptoms to causes, so much has already been discussed about the Nipah virus, but have you ever wondered why the virus was named Nipah? We will dive into the history of this virus and the meaning behind the name in this article.

The Village That Gave Its Name to a Deadly Virus

Nipah virus is a type of zoonotic infection, which spreads through animals. The natural reservoir of the Nipah virus is fruit bats (genus Pteropus), also known as flying foxes. Infected fruit bats can spread the virus to people or other animals, such as pigs.

Why was this virus named Nipah? According to The World Health Organisation (WHO), the Nipah virus was first detected in Sungai Nipah village of Malaysia in 1999. It was named Nipah after the name of this village. The origin of the Nipah virus is not fully understood. The virus, however, is believed to have been present in fruit bats for a very long time. It’s probable that the virus had caused outbreaks in other nations before Malaysia saw the first reported Nipah virus outbreak in 1999.

We spoke to Dr Sushila Kataria, Senior Director, Internal Medicine, Medanta, Gurugram, to understand more about the nature of this virus and the way it travels from one body to another. Here is what the doctor has to say: “Usually, this virus spreads through bats and pigs. If a bat infected with this virus eats a fruit and a human or animal eats the same fruit or vegetable, then it also gets infected. The Nipah virus spreads not only through animals but also from one infected person to another. It can spread through saliva, blood and body fluids. This means that if you are taking care of someone infected with Nipah virus, you can also get this infection when the patient coughs or sneezes. This is the reason why this virus is also airborne.”

Nipah virus epidemics have also occurred in Bangladesh, India, and the Philippines since the initial outbreak in Malaysia. In these nations, the virus is currently seen as a severe threat to public health.

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