What You Need to Know About the Henipavirus

By: Levi Santiago

Diseases are an inevitable part of the environment. At present, there is an emerging zoonotic disease called the Henipavirus whose symptoms are sufficient to incapacitate a person significantly. Diseases like this come from places that are a lot less cleaner than your house and lot for sale in Dasmarinas Cavite. This blog will discuss general background information on what is relevant to know about the Henipavirus and what possible preventive measures can be taken to reduce its transmission.

What Is the Henipavirus?

The Paramyxoviridae is a family of viruses that have been recorded to cause various kinds of infectious diseases in vertebrates, which in other words, are animals that possess a backbone or spine. Its primary means of infection is through respiratory droplets; and is comprised of three genera, namely, Pneumovirus, where the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is classified under, Morbillivirus, where the measles virus is classified, and Paramoxyvirus, where the mumps and parainfluenza virus are classified under.

The Henipavirus is classified under the Paramoxyvirus genera, and observations of this virus have identified it to be zoonotic in nature. This means the Henipavirus is typically transmitted from wild animals to humans, primarily via interactions. The Henipavirus genus of viruses has two primary zoonotic viruses that have been infecting humans: the Nipah virus and the Hendra virus.

The Nipah Virus

Nature of transmission

The Nipah virus (NiV) is identified to be transmitted to humans from livestock, specifically pigs. It is presumed that the Nipah virus infection in pigs comes from partially eaten fruits of bats. The Nipah virus is transmitted from pigs via contact with urine, respiratory secretions, saliva, or surfaces significantly contaminated by the mentioned secretions.

Other potential sources of transmission of the Nipah virus include consuming the sap of date palm fruits that have been contaminated with bat secretions. Moreover, other animals that may be interacted with in places that cater to livestock, such as farms, like horses, cats, goats, and dogs, are potential sources of transmitting the Nipah virus.

Progression of the disease

Upon infection, it can take 5 to 20 days for the Nipah virus to cause signs of illness in the infected person. Along with fever, the Nipah virus will cause symptoms of acute encephalitis, which is the inflammation of the brain’s active tissues due to an autoimmune response or infection. Moreover, symptoms of meningitis also appear, which is the inflammation of the fluids and membranes surrounding the spinal cord and brain. The Nipah virus also fosters symptoms of influenza, which is an illness that targets the throat, nose, and lungs.

Other specifics of infection from the Nipah virus indicate a mortality rate of 40% to 70%, in which survivors end up impaired with mental functioning, motor incoordination, and significant muscular weakness. Additional symptoms of the infection of the Nipah virus include rising blood pressure, vomiting, loss of consciousness, and headaches.

Relevant geographical data

Cases of infections with the Nipah virus have been observed in outbreaks that have occurred in Malaysia and Bangladesh. Specifically, it was in Bangladesh that the highest rate of human-to-human outbreak was observed. In addition, it was in the 1999 outbreak in Malaysia that, along with pigs, domestic animals like sheep, dogs, horses, and cats were sources of transmission for the Nipah virus.

Hendra Virus

Nature of transmission

Similar to the Nipah virus, the Hendra virus is presumed to have originated from bats, who then transmitted the virus to livestock animals that humans significantly interact with. To be specific, it’s horses that are presumed to be transmitting the Hendra virus that was received from bats via ingesting food that has been contaminated with bat droppings. Horses are able to transmit the Hendra virus to humans through contact with the urine and respiratory secretions of horses.

Progression of the disease

The symptoms caused by the Hendra virus are similar to those of Nipah virus as well. The Hendra virus has been observed to also cause symptoms of encephalitis and respiratory illnesses like influenza. For the Hendra virus, the mortality rate is at 50%, and, along with the Nipah virus, those with acute encephalitis have a worse mortality rate.

Tracing Clearly the Source of the Henipavirus

The World Health Organization identifies the fruit bat, specifically those from the family Pteropodidae and under the Pteropus genus, are the primary source of the Henipavirus transmission. However, it is also observed that fruit bats that possess the Henipavirus do not exhibit any symptoms of the disease.

Tracing the source of the Henipavirus based on records of geographic distribution, there is an observed overlap between the spread of Henipaviruses with areas that are significantly inhabited by Pteropus bats in the following countries: Papua New Guinea, Madagascar, India, Timor-Lesto, China, Australia, Thailand, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Malaysia, and Cambodia.

Possible Measures for Prevention

Preventing the further spread of Henipaviruses includes understanding that they are zoonotic, which means that they are primarily transmitted from wild animals to humans. In the context of the Henipavirus, it is wild animal fruit bats that transmit the virus to livestock and domestic animals; and since many humans have frequent contact with domestic and livestock animals, the possibility for transmission of the Henipavirus becomes more likely.

To be specific, the domestic animals and livestock mentioned that are at risk for transmission are typically the ones settled in areas where fruit bats could be roaming; so if your house and lot for sale in Dasmarinas Cavite are not situated in a place like that, then the possibility of your domestic animals to become sources of transmission is on the unlikely side.

Have better sanitary measures when handling animals

Given this, one of the possible preventive measures that can be taken is to significantly reduce human-to-animal transmission by upholding more careful sanitary precautions for both humans and animals. Better protection should be provided for pigs from fruit bats, especially when it comes to not letting the place where pigs eat be exposed to contamination from fruit bat droppings.

Moreover, protective equipment should be worn when interacting with sick animals such as pigs, horses, and other domestic animals and livestock. This also applies to people who work at slaughterhouses.

Ensure that fruits are clean before eating them

Lastly, careful precautions must be taken to ensure the cleanliness of fresh fruits, particularly date palm fruits. Measures should be taken to keep fruit bats away from fruits to prevent fruit bats from having any contact with fresh fruits to be sold in markets. Fresh date palm juice needs to be boiled first before consumption as well. If you ever plan on bringing home date palm fruit products to your house and lot for sale in Dasmarinas Cavite, packaged products may be a lot cleaner than fruits that are free to pick up and hold in a market stall.

Read more: Is It the Flu or Is It COVID?

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