Deadly infectious agent: WHO warns of the Nipha virus

Dangerous Nipha virus responsible for numerous deaths in India

The Nipah virus has caused numerous deaths in India. There is neither vaccination nor causal therapy against the deadly pathogen. The World Health Organization (WHO) explains how the risk of transmission of the pathogen can be reduced.

Nipha virus kills several people

In southern India, several people have died from infections with the dangerous Nipah virus. According to the Ministry of Health of the State of Kerala, the fatal pathogen has claimed at least ten lives. In addition, there are numerous suspected cases. Around 100 people were quarantined. Kerala's Health Minister Rajeev Sadanandan told the BBC that hospital workers who treated the patients were also among the victims.

Public health risk

"We sent blood and body fluid samples of all suspected cases to the National Institute of Virology in Pune for confirmation," said the minister.

"We are now focusing on precautions to prevent the disease from spreading as treatment is limited to supportive care."

The World Health Organization (WHO) lists the Nipha virus in its list of diseases and pathogens that “pose a risk to public health and for which there are no or inadequate countermeasures”.

This list recently attracted worldwide attention as the WHO also added an unknown disease X that could threaten global health emergencies.

There is no vaccination or causal treatment against the Nipha virus, which was first detected in Malaysia in 1998.

Only the symptoms can be alleviated with medication. According to the “BBC”, the mortality rate is 70 percent.

Reduce transmission risk

The "Nipah virus can be transmitted from animals (bats, pigs) to humans and also directly from human to human," wrote the WHO on its website.

"In the absence of an approved vaccine, the only way to reduce infection in humans is to raise awareness of the risk factors," said the experts.

They explain how the risk of transmission from person to person can be reduced: "Close, unprotected contact with people infected with Nipah virus should be avoided."

And: "Regular hand washing should be carried out after nursing or visiting sick people."

In order to reduce the risk of transmission of infected bats to humans, access to fresh food should be restricted for the animals.

In addition, fruits that may have come into contact with bats should not be consumed, or only if they have been washed and peeled long enough beforehand.

Permanent consequences of the disease

According to health experts, after an incubation period of less than two weeks, the condition becomes noticeable with high fever and flu-like symptoms such as headache and dizziness.

In the further course, respiratory diseases and fatal meningitis can occur.

It is also known that patients can experience long-term consequences such as personality changes and epilepsy. (ad)

Author and source information

Video: TELUS Talks. The virus we should have seen coming: Dr. Osterholm (June 2021).