Who are the major carriers of the virus?
Bats shed the virus in their excrement and secretions, but they are symptomless carriers. NiV is highly contagious among pigs and is spread by coughing.
What are the symptoms of the infection? How is it treated?
NiV infection in humans has a range of effects, from asymptomatic infection to acute respiratory distress syndrome and fatal encephalitis. The primary treatment is intensive supportive care. Treatment is focused on managing fever and the neurological symptoms. Ribavirin may alleviate the symptoms of nausea, vomiting, and convulsions.
How can it be prevented?
As options for treatment are limited, the focus should be on prevention. Strategies include preventing farm animals from eating fruit contaminated by bats and avoiding consumption of contaminated date palm sap. Healthcare workers caring for patients should put in place standard precautions including washing hands. Wearing a gown, mask, cap and gloves is also recommended.