Nipah virus outbreak in India sparks growing concern

A virus with a fatality rate that can reach 75 per cent is resurgent in India, sparking growing concern.

Nipah virus is classified as a zoonotic disease, meaning it can jump from animals to humans.

It was first identified after an outbreak in Malaysian pig farmers in 1999.

It then popped up in Bangladesh in 2001 and outbreaks occur there annually, along with eastern India, the World Health Organisation (WHO) stated. More than 100 people have died of Nipah.

It is spread from secretions from animals, through contaminated food and contact with the tissue of sick animals.

Fruit bats are the natural carriers of the virus and have been identified as the most likely cause of subsequent outbreaks.

Nipah can also be transmitted from other humans.

Now authorities in India are scrambling to contain a rare outbreak of Nipah.

Nipah has been listed by the WHO — alongside Ebola, Zika and Covid-19 — as one of several diseases deserving of priority research for their potential to cause a global epidemic.

There is no vaccine for Nipah.

The symptoms of deadly Nipah

Symptoms include intense fever, vomiting and a respiratory infection, but severe cases can involve seizures and brain inflammation that results in a coma.

Patients have a mortality rate of between 40 and 75 per cent depending on the public health response to the virus, the WHO says.

Rabies is considered the deadliest virus as it kills about 99 per cent of symptomatic people. the Ebola virus can kill up to 90 per cent of infected people.

The latest outbreak

The southern state of Kerala has recorded two deaths from Nipah and four other confirmed cases since last month.

Authorities there have closed some schools and instituted mass testing. This marks Kerala’s fourth recorded spate of Nipah cases in five years. The virus killed 17 people during the first instance in 2018. The state has managed to stamp out previous outbreaks within a matter of weeks through widespread testing and strict isolation of those in contact with patients.

Queensland has shipped out vials of an experimental Hendra Virus treatment to India amid the breakout, the Courier Mail reports.

– with AFP

Originally published as Nipah virus outbreak sparks growing concern

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