How can Nipah be treated?
International health organisations like that World Health Organisation and the Centre for Disease Control in the United States maintain that Nipah patients must be intensive supportive treatment since there is no vaccine or drug to cure the disease. This entails managing the respiratory and neurological symptoms till the infection subsides.
However, researchers have been looking to develop vaccines and drugs to be used on patients who have already been exposed to the virus. An experimental drug called Favipiravir has shown potential to protect against Nipah infection in animal models. In fact, Favipiravir is one of three experimental drugs that health organisation are considering for use against Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, this drug has not yet been proved for safety and efficacy through human clinical trials. Another drug called Ribavirin showed some promise in containing some outbreaks, but experiments on animal models showed that it had little or no effect on the virus and its efficacy is considered to be uncertain. Researchers are also looking into whether administering antibodies of the virus can help contain infection.
For now, people who have not been infected by Nipah can protect themselves by maintaining good personal hygiene and washing their hands after being out in public and before eating. Doctors also recommend avoiding drinking any unpasteurized juices in regions with Nipah outbreaks and fruit that have fallen from trees or show any signs of bites. Fruit should be washed thoroughly, peeled or cooked before eating.
Close contact with fruit bats and their secretions and excretions should be avoided. Since, pigs are the host in some Nipah virus infections, any sick animals should not be used for food, even if the meat is to be cooked. The process of slaughter itself can increase human exposure to virus.