A recent outbreak of a deadly and rare virus has killed at least nine people in southern India. The virus is called Nipah, and it can be transmitted from bats to any other species of animals and to humans. So far, there is no cure to treat the infected people. After getting the virus, 40-75% of the people die.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently urged researchers to prioritize studies on finding a cure for Nipah and Ebola.
The First Encounter of Nipah – 1998
According to Healththoroughfare, the first infection with the Nipah virus was in Malaysia, in 1998. Back then, 265 people were infected with an unknown disease that cause encephalitis. It happened after they came in contact with either infected people or with pigs. The epidemic cause 105 victims, faving a fatality rate of 40%. Since 1998, there have been small incidents of infection with Nipah in India and Bangladesh. However, the patients rose to 280, and the fatality rate increased to 75% – making 211 victims.
After finding out that the pigs were the source of infection, the authorities killed more than a million pigs. Later, studies showed that the bats were the first host of the virus.
People got sick after drinking juice of date palm which carried the virus from bats that contaminated the trees. The disease spread through contacts with animals or other people that carried the virus.
Nipah and Ebola on WHO’s Urgent Research Priority List
The Nipah virus has various symptoms. Some patients experience fever, confusion and headache. Others have flu-like symptoms. Other patients have fallen into a coma one day or two days after getting infected.
Survivors of the Nipah virus remained with health problems over years – they had seizures or behavioral changes. Moreover, the virus can wake up in the surviving patients months or years after the first infection.
The first step WHO wants to take is to find the people infected with the virus and contain the spread of infection.
If they cannot effectively contain it, we’re going to face a deadly global pandemic.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.