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What is Nipah Virus?

Raghu Kshitiz

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The rare but deadly Nipah virus has recently emerged in southern Indian State of Kerala, killing at least 12 people including a nurse and causing more than 25 others to be hospitalized.

Nipah virus (NiV) infection is a newly emerging zoonosis that causes severe disease in both animals and humans. The natural host of the virus are fruit bats of the Pteropodidae Family, Pteropus genus, according to World Health Organisation.

NiV was first identified during an outbreak of disease that took place in Kampung Sungai Nipah, Malaysia in 1998.

NiV is on the WHO’s priority list of emerging diseases that could cause a global pandemic, alongside Zika and Ebola.

NiV infection in humans has a range of clinical presentations, from asymptomatic infection to acute respiratory syndrome and fatal encephalitis.

Those infected suffer a quick onset of symptoms, including fever, vomiting, disorientation, mental confusion, encephalitis and — in up to 70 percent of cases, depending on the strain — ultimately death.
NiV is also capable of causing disease in pigs and other domestic animals.

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There is no vaccine for either humans or animals. The primary treatment for human cases is intensive supportive care only.

How is the NiV spread?

Several species of fruit bats that live throughout Asia carry Nipah. During outbreaks in Bangladesh from 2001 to 2007 — most people contracted the virus by drinking raw date palm sap that virus-carrying fruit bats had also sipped and contaminated.

Bats can also transmit NiV to pigs and other livestock, which can then pass the infection onto humans. And humans can spread the virus through saliva and possibly other bodily fluids.

NiV and its viral cousin Hendra latch onto a proteins called ephrin-B2 and ephrin-B3 on the surface of nerve cells and the endothelial cells lining blood and lymph vessels, researchers have found. NiV can also invade lung and kidney cells.

Most patients who die succumb to an inflammation of blood vessels and a swelling of the brain that occurs in the later stages of the disease.

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Diabetes drug might ease heart failure risk

Gorkha Post

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A new research has showed that the diabetes drug Farxiga might do double-duty for patients, helping to ward off another killer, heart failure.

According to the findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine to coincide with their presentation at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association in Chicago, Type 2 diabetics who took Farxiga saw their odds of hospitalization for heart failure drop by 27 percent compared to those who took a placebo.

Farxiga is a type of drug called a SGLT2 inhibitor. The compound is called dapagliflozin.

The study included more than 17,000 type 2 diabetes patients aged 40 and older. Nearly 7,000 had heart disease and more than 10,000 had numerous risk factors for heart disease, Wiviott’s group said.

Patients were randomly assigned to take a dummy placebo pill or 10 milligrams of Farxiga each day.

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“When it comes to helping our patients control and manage blood glucose, the ‘how’ appears to be as important [as] the ‘how much,” said study author Dr Stephen Wiviott, a cardiovascular medicine specialist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

“When choosing a therapy, trial results like these can help us make an informed decision about what treatments are not only safe and effective for lowering blood glucose but can also reduce risk of heart and kidney complications,” Wiviott said in a hospital news release.

Taking the drug did not reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular-related death, the research team noted. However, patients who took the drug did see healthy declines in their blood sugar levels, plus an added bonus: a 27 percent decrease in their risk of hospitalization for heart failure.

Their risk of kidney failure and death from kidney failure also fell, researchers noted.

Two other recent studies of this class of drugs show that they “robustly and consistently improve heart and kidney outcomes in a broad population of patients with diabetes,” Wiviott noted.

With Inputs from HealthDay

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