A VIRUS dubbed the ‘next pandemic threat’ is surging, experts have warned.
Hundreds of people in India are being tested for Nipah after two have died and at least five infected.
The Nipah virus is a zoonotic disease that can be transmitted from bats and pigs to humansCredit: Alamy
The bug inspired the blockbuster film Contagion about a global pandemicCredit: Getty
Schools and offices have been shut in some parts of the southern Indian state of Kerala where the cases have been reported.
Nipah is a zoonotic virus transmitted from animals like fruit bats and pigs to humans, according to the World Health Organisation.
The bug inspired the blockbuster film Contagion about a global pandemic, attacks the brain causing it to swell and has a fatality rate up to 75 per cent.
Of those who survive it, around 20 per cent are left with long-term neurological conditions, including personality changes or seizure disorders.
Fro comparison, estimates based off the John Hopkins University dashboard suggest the fatality rate of Covid is just over one per cent.
There is no medicine or vaccine available to treat the infection.
Health authorities said on Wednesday that they have tested 706 people, including 153 health workers, to check the spread of the virus.
The is the fourth Nipah outbreak in Kerala since 2018.
The state’s chief minister, Pinarayi Vijayan said his government was taking the deaths “very seriously”.
He said people who were in contact with those who had died were undergoing treatment.
Scientists have previously told The Sun Nipah could “absolutely be the cause of a new pandemic”.
Listed by the WHO as a “priority pathogen” with pandemic potential, it can rapidly attack the respiratory and central nervous systems.
The United States deems the virus a Category C bioterrorism threat, as it “could be engineered for mass dissemination in the future”.
The virus now predominantly affected Bangladesh, where nearly annual outbreaks occur.
This year, between January 4 to February 13, a total of 11 cases of Nipah including eight deaths were reported in Bangladesh.
Other regions at risk for infection include Cambodia, Ghana, Indonesia, Madagascar, the Philippines, and Thailand.
The 10 symptoms of Nipah
SOME people experience no symptoms at all, while others develop severe symptoms.
For those who do fall ill, signs typically begin within four to 14 days after exposure to the virus.
- muscle pain
- cough and sore throat
- altered consciousness
- respiratory distress