Nipah virus is a zoonotic virus (passed from animals to humans) and can be spread through contaminated food or by direct human-to-human contact, according to the World Health Organization.
The virus has claimed the lives of two people in India in recent weeks, and it is believed to have infected many more. Indian authorities are doing everything they can to stop the spread of the virus, closing schools, offices, and public transportation.
The World Health Organization has designated Nipah as a high-priority disease because of its potential to trigger another worldwide epidemic.
Dr. Joanne Macdonald, at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia, said that the disease can be spread by fruit bats who sit on the tops of trees. They can taint fruit with their urine, making people sick if they consume it.
People infected with the Nipah virus may not show any symptoms for up to 45 days after becoming infected, making it easy for them to infect others while they continue to feel okay. The only way to help someone who contracted Nipah is to reduce their fever, headache, cough, sore throat, and vomiting, as neither a vaccination nor a cure exists.
According to the CDC, patients may have seizures, coma, or brain swelling if the infection progresses to a severe stage.
Even having survived a Nipah infection, there is no guarantee that you won’t experience long-term neurological symptoms like seizures, convulsions, and personality abnormalities.
Horses, pigs, lambs, goats, cats, dogs, and bats are some species that the Nipah virus can infect.
Since its discovery in 1998, the Nipah virus has caused additional epidemics among pigs and pig farmers in Malaysia and Singapore.
Previous epidemics were observed in 2018 (again), 2019 (again), and 2021 (again) in the southern Indian state of Kerala, where the present outbreak is concentrated.
Whether it’s a virus, bacteria, fungus, or any other pathogen, when it emerges as a novel disease agent, it will likely have no immunizations and few, if any, treatments.
Dr. Richard Hatchett, chief executive officer of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, said, “This isn’t the stuff of science fiction.” We need to plan for this kind of contingency.