The state of Kerala in southern India is stepping up efforts to stop a likely outbreak of the deadly Nipah virus, even as the state continues to struggle with the Covid-19 pandemic.
A 12-year-old boy has died in India from Nipah, a rare virus that is much more deadly than Covid-19, and which officials at the World Health Organization have long feared could trigger a global pandemic.
The boy died on Sunday in a hospital in Kerala, the southern state already struggling with the highest number of Covid-19 cases in the hard-hit country, health officials said.
The young patient had already been taken to two other hospitals before his death, putting him in contact with potentially hundreds of people, up to 11 cases with potential symptoms, local media reported.
Previous outbreaks of Nipah, or NiV, have shown an estimated death rate of between 40% and 75%, according to the World Health Organization, making it much deadlier than the coronavirus.
And one of the reasons the Nipah virus is so worrisome is the disease’s long incubation period (up to 45 days), which means that an infected host is unaware that it is sick. for a long time, thus increasing the risk of spreading it …
On the other hand, the Nipah virus is an emerging infectious agent transmitted by bats and which, according to the WHO, poses a risk of severe epidemic in the near future, especially since no treatment or vaccine is available. ‘currently exist.
Researchers from the Institut Pasteur, the CNRS and many research centers around the world collaborated in 2019 to try to find out more about this virus. Their study showed that the risk of transmission is greater when the patient is an adult with respiratory symptoms. Therefore, when it is not possible to isolate all suspected cases, these individuals should be targeted as a priority to better control the spread of the virus.
Why is India affected?
Asia is experiencing a high number of emerging infectious diseases. Tropical regions have a rich biodiversity, which means that they are also home to a large number of pathogens, thus increasing the chances that a new virus could emerge.
The increase in human populations and human-wildlife contact in these areas also increases the risk factor.
What are the risks of contamination?
This virus can infect a wide range of animals, making the possibility of spread more likely. It can be caught through direct contact or by eating contaminated food.
A person with Nipah virus can have respiratory symptoms, including a cough, sore throat, pain and fatigue, and encephalitis, a swelling of the brain that can cause seizures and death. It is thus safe to say that it is a disease that the WHO would like to prevent from spreading.