Authorities race to include lethal Nipah virus outbreak in India

New Delhi — Authorities in India’s southern Kerala state are racing to include an outbreak of the Nipah virus. The virus, which isn’t associated to the coronavirus behind the present world pandemic and is much extra lethal, killed a 12-year-old boy in Kerala over the weekend, prompting stepped-up efforts to hint his contacts. New infections have been confirmed. 

The boy was admitted to a hospital every week in the past with excessive fever. As his situation worsened and docs suspected irritation of his mind (encephalitis), his blood samples have been despatched to the Nationwide Institute of Virology, the place exams confirmed a Nipah an infection. He died early on Sunday. 

Authorities authorities have stepped up contact tracing efforts, figuring out, quarantining and testing individuals who might have come into contact with the younger sufferer. In accordance with the state’s well being minister, Veena George, 188 individuals who got here into contact with the boy had been recognized by Monday. Of them, 20 have been thought-about high-risk main contacts — primarily his members of the family, all of whom have been being held below strict quarantine or hospitalized. 

Two healthcare staff who got here into contact with the sufferer have been already exhibiting signs of Nipah an infection by Monday. They have been admitted to a hospital and their blood samples despatched for testing.  

Authorities sealed off the realm inside a couple of two-mile radius of the boy’s dwelling, they usually have been screening individuals for signs in all adjoining districts of Kerala state. The neighboring state of Tamil Nadu was additionally on excessive alert for any suspect instances of fever. 

That is the second time in three years {that a} Nipah virus outbreak has been reported in Kerala, which can also be reeling below a excessive charge of COVID-19 infections. The state stories about 68% of India’s roughly 40,000 new instances day-after-day.  

What’s Nipah virus? 

Just like the coronavirus, Nipah is a zoonotic virus, or one that’s transmitted from animals to people. Transmission usually happens when people both come into direct contact with the animals, or by way of consumption of contaminated meals. However a excessive variety of human-to-human transmission instances of Nipah have additionally been reported. 

Fruit bats of the household Pteropodidae — generally often known as the “flying fox” — are the pure carriers of Nipah. They’re recognized to transmit the virus to different animals together with pigs, canine, cats, goats, horses and sheep.

Animal Husbandry division and Forest officers deposit a bat right into a container after catching it inside a nicely at Changaroth in Kozhikode within the Indian state of Kerala on Could 21, 2018.


An contaminated human sometimes exhibits signs together with fever and headache for wherever between three days and two weeks, adopted by a cough, sore throat and respiratory points. The situation later progresses swiftly to swelling within the mind cells, resulting in drowsiness, confusion, after which doable coma and loss of life.

There isn’t a remedy or vaccine for Nipah but, and sufferers are solely given supportive medical care.

In accordance with the World Well being Group, as much as 75% of Nipah infections show deadly. The mortality charge for the coronavirus, by comparability, is believed to be about 2%. About 20% of survivors expertise neurological signs that may persist, together with seizures and character adjustments.

A wider risk? 

The Nipah virus was first found in Malaysia in 1999 throughout an outbreak amongst pig farmers. Since then, there have been a number of outbreaks — all of them in South and Southeast Asia. In all, it’s recognized to have killed greater than 260 individuals. 

Animal Husbandry division and Forest officers examine a nicely to to catch bats at Changaroth in Kozhikode within the Indian state of Kerala, Could 21, 2018.


A 2004 Bangladesh outbreak was traced again to people consuming date palm sap that had been contaminated by contaminated fruit bats. The final outbreak in India, which hit Kerala in 2018, killed 17 of the 18 individuals who caught it. These infections have been all traced again to fruit bats discovered lifeless within the water of a household’s nicely.  

Nipah is taken into account much less contagious than the coronavirus, however its a lot increased mortality charge, an extended incubation interval of as much as 45 days, and its capability to contaminate a a lot wider number of animals all make Nipah a trigger of great concern for epidemiologists attempting to foretell and stop the subsequent pandemic.

Veasna Duong, head of virology on the Institut Pasteur analysis lab in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, has studied human-bat interactions within the area, and he advised the BBC earlier this 12 months that the shut proximity that individuals and bats discover themselves in at markets and different crowded locations throughout Asia poses a critical threat.

APTOPIX India Deadly Virus
Paramedics bury the physique of Valachekutti Mosa, who died of the Nipah virus, in Kozhikode, within the southern Indian state of Kerala, Could 24, 2018.


“This type of publicity may permit the virus to mutate, which could trigger a pandemic,” Duong advised the BBC’s Future program, including that in some circumstances, the virus might even discover a host to hold it out of Asia.

“We observe [fruit bats] right here and in Thailand, in markets, worship areas, faculties and vacationer places like Angkor Wat – there’s a giant roost of bats there,” he advised the BBC’s Future program. “In a traditional 12 months, Angkor Wat hosts 2.6 million guests. That’s 2.6 million alternatives for Nipah virus to leap from bats to people yearly in only one location.”

From the archives: Searching viruses


Scientists warn that because the local weather warms and people destroy extra pure habitat of species just like the fruit bats in Asia, alternatives for brand spanking new zoonotic variants to emerge enhance.

The WHO says in its notice on the Nipah virus that, “the chance of worldwide transmission through fruits or fruit merchandise (reminiscent of uncooked date palm juice) contaminated with urine or saliva from contaminated fruit bats will be prevented by washing them totally and peeling them earlier than consumption. Fruit with indicators of bat bites must be discarded.”

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