Nipah virus: Symptoms and treatment

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Symptoms of Nipah virus

In some human cases, the infected person shows no symptoms at all. In others, there is a range of symptoms from severe difficulty breathing (mild and severe) to fatal encephalitis (swelling of the brain).

Infected people develop flu-like symptoms at first, such as:

  • fever
  • vomiting
  • headaches
  • sore throat
  • myalgia (muscle pain)

This can be followed by:

  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • altered consciousness
  • neurological signs that suggest acute swelling of the brain

Some people can also suffer pneumonia and severe breathing problems. Brain swelling and seizures occur in severe cases, progressing to coma within 24 to 48 hours.

While most people who survive acute encephalitis make a full recovery, about 20% have lasting neurological effects, such as:

  • seizures
  • changes to their personality

About 40% to 75% of people infected by Nipah virus die. However, this rate varies significantly depending on the outbreak and local surveillance abilities.

What to do if you become ill

Visit a healthcare professional right away if you travelled to an area where Nipah virus is present and:

  • you develop symptoms of Nipah virus infection or
  • you have come into contact with someone who has Nipah virus

Tell them where you have been travelling or living.

Treating Nipah virus

There are no specific treatments (drugs or vaccines) for Nipah virus infection. Treatment is limited to supportive care. However, the sooner you get hospital care, the better your chances are for recovery.

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