Another deadly Nipah virus outbreak: what are the symptoms?

Two people have died in India from the Nipah virus in recent weeks, and many more are feared to be carriers of the deadly disease, which kills up to 75% of those infected.

Public officials in India are struggling to contain the virus, closing schools, offices and public transportation to stop the easily spread disease.

The World Health Organization identifies Nipah as a high-priority disease with the potential to start another global pandemic, turning any outbreak into a public health crisis.

“Nipah virus is a zoonotic virus (transmitted from animals to humans) and can also be transmitted through contaminated food or directly between people,” the WHO states on its website.

Not only does the disease spread easily, but the incubation period can last up to 45 days, so people carrying the Nipah virus do not have symptoms and feel healthy, even when they transmit the infection to others.

Health workers in protective gear move the body of a person who died from a Nipah virus infection at a hospital in the Indian state of Kerala.Health workers in protective gear move the body of a person who died from a Nipah virus infection at a hospital in Kerala state, India. AFP via Getty Images

There is no vaccine or cure for Nipah infection, so treatment is generally limited to relieving symptoms (fever, headache, cough, sore throat, and vomiting) in those who suffer from the disease.

In severe cases, patients may experience disorientation, seizures, coma, or brain swelling (encephalitis), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In fact, some people who have survived a Nipah infection have long-term neurological symptoms, such as seizures, convulsions, and erratic personality changes.

Residents place a sign reading "Nipah Containment Zone" on a barricade set up to block a road after authorities declared the area a quarantine zone.Residents place a sign reading “Nipah Containment Zone” on a barricade erected to block a road after authorities declared the area a quarantine zone.REUTERS

See also  Who is Mahmud Yakubu? Court orders arrest of INEC president

Nipah virus can infect many different animals, including horses, pigs, sheep, goats, cats, dogs and especially bats.

“It is carried by fruit bats that roost in the treetops,” Dr. Joanne Macdonald, an associate professor of molecular engineering at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia, told The Guardian. “They can urinate and contaminate the fruit, and when people eat it, they get the virus and then get sick.”

Other outbreaks of Nipah virus have occurred since it was first discovered in 1998 among pigs and pig farmers in Malaysia and Singapore.

A healthcare worker removes biological waste from a Nipah virus isolation center at a government hospital in the southern Indian state of Kerala.A healthcare worker removes biological waste from a Nipah virus isolation center at a government hospital in the southern Indian state of Kerala. AFP via Getty Images

The current outbreak is centered in the southern Indian state of Kerala, where previous outbreaks were recorded in 2018, 2019 and 2021.

Along with Nipah, the WHO has identified other “priority diseases” that have the potential to cause the next pandemic: the Marburg and Ebola viruses; Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever; Lassa fever; Rift Valley Fever; Middle East respiratory syndrome, also known as MERS; severe acute respiratory syndrome, commonly known as SARS; COVID-19 and Zika virus.

The last disease on the WHO list is the chillingly named “Disease X,” a code name the WHO uses for a disease currently unknown to medical science as a cause of human infections.

Health workers in protective gear move a woman with Nipah virus symptoms to an isolation ward at a government hospital in the Indian state of Kerala.Health workers in protective gear move a woman with Nipah virus symptoms to an isolation ward at a government hospital in the Indian state of Kerala.AFP via Getty Images

As a new pathogen, whether a virus, bacteria, fungus, or other pathogen, there will likely be no vaccines or few, if any, treatments available.

See also  Hundreds of earthquakes shake the summit of Kilauea volcano in Hawaii

“This is not the stuff of science fiction,” Dr. Richard Hatchett, executive director of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, told the Telegraph. “This is a scenario we have to prepare for.”

Categories: Trending
Source: vtt.edu.vn

Leave a Comment