In southern India, at least nine people have died after the Nipah’s rare and deadly virus has recently erupted. Nipah is an extremely dangerous virus that can be transmitted from bats to other species, including humans. There is currently no cure for the infected people, out of who, between 40% and 75%, die. The virus could at any time trigger a terrible global pandemic, which is why the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared it an urgent research priority, along with Ebola.
Nipah virus has first appeared in 1998, in Malaysia
At that time, 265 people have suffered from a mysterious disease that caused encephalitis (brain inflammation) after coming into contact with pigs or infected people.
105 people died in the epidemic, the fatality rate being 40%. Since then there have only been small-scale epidemics in India and Bangladesh. The number of patients was about 280, while the number of deaths was 211, the fatality rate being, in this case, 75%.
At first, when the infection was transmitted from pigs to humans, the authorities killed over one million pigs. Later, scientists have shown that bats are actually the main host.
Many people have become sick because they have consumed juice of date palm contaminated with the Nipah virus by bats. The disease also spreads through close contact with animals or humans carrying the Nipah virus.
WHO added the cureless Nipah virus on its list of urgent research priority, along with Ebola
Symptoms of Nipah virus have varied over time. Most patients have experienced fever, confusion, and headache in the first phase. Some of them also suffered from flu-like symptoms, while others have fallen into a coma, a day or two after contracting the infection.
Those who managed to survive the disease remained with long-term health problems such as behavioral changes and seizures. Even worse, the virus can wake to life in the surviving patients, months or even years after the initial infection.
The priority of the health experts from the WHO, at the moment, is to identify all the people who may be infected with the Nipah virus and to ensure that the disease does not spread further, a fact which might cause a deadly global pandemic.