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Nipah virus. India introduced quarantine and testing

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A rare but serious virus transmitted by bats or flying foxes has been recorded in the Indian state of Kerala.

Indian authorities have introduced mass testing to curb the spread of the deadly Nipah virus, which has killed five people, including a child, in Kerala. Officials also limited public gatherings, closed schools and offices, and ordered streets to be treated with antiseptics.

The virus was detected in the city of Kozhikodi, home to nearly two million people. The authorities urge the population not to panic, but to follow the quarantine rules.

What is Nipah?

Nipah is a rare but serious virus that is transmitted from animals. The disease can cause fever, vomiting and acute respiratory symptoms. Severe cases can include seizures and encephalitis—inflammation of the brain—and lead to coma.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the mortality rate from the virus is 40-75%. This high mortality rate is due to the lack of a vaccine against the infection, and conventional treatment of the disease involves only supportive care.

The first outbreak of Nipah was reported in 1998 after the virus spread among pig farmers in Malaysia and Singapore. The virus is named after the village where it was discovered.

The virus is carried by members of the fruit bat family, flying dogs and flying foxes. You can be infected directly from these animals, or, for example, by eating fruits they have contacted. The infection can also be acquired from a sick person.

Scientists fear that a mutated strain could emerge from flying foxes. Nipah outbreaks are generally rare, but the WHO has listed the virus as a disease worthy of priority investigation because of its potential to cause a global epidemic, along with Ebola, Zika and Covid-19.

Previous outbreaks

The first outbreak of Nipah in 1998 infected nearly 300 people in Malaysia, killed more than 100 locals, and prompted the incineration of a million pigs to contain the virus.

It has also spread to Singapore, where there have been 11 cases and one death among slaughterhouse workers exposed to pigs imported from Malaysia.

Since then, the disease has been reported mainly in Bangladesh and India, with both countries reporting their first outbreaks in 2001. According to the WHO, from 1998 to 2015, more than 600 cases of Nipah virus infection have been reported. .

There is now a quadruple outbreak of Nipah in India. The state was able to eliminate the group’s earlier illnesses within weeks through extensive testing and strict isolation of those who came into contact with the patients.

Viruses transmitted from animals are becoming more common

Over the past 20-30 years, the number of zoonotic diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans has increased. First, industrial farming increases the risk of pathogens being spread between animals, and second, deforestation increases contact between wildlife, livestock and humans.

Scientists warn that the climate crisis also increases the risk of zoonotic diseases, with 15,000 cases of viruses jumping between species predicted within 50 years.

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Source: korrespondent

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