A VIRUS dubbed the “next pandemic threat” is on the rise, experts warn.
Hundreds of people in India are being tested for Nipah after two died and at least five were infected.
Schools and offices were closed in some parts of the southern state of Kerala where the cases were reported.
According to the World Health Organization, Nipah is a zoonotic virus that is transmitted to humans from animals such as flying foxes and pigs.
Classified by the WHO as a “priority pathogen” with pandemic potential, it can quickly attack the respiratory tract and central nervous system.
The bug that inspired the blockbuster global pandemic film “Contagion” attacks the brain, causing it to swell and causing a death rate of up to 75 percent.
Of those who survive, around 20 percent are left with long-term neurological illnesses, including personality changes or seizure disorders.
For comparison, estimates based on the John Hopkins University dashboard suggest the Covid mortality rate is just over one percent.
There are no medications or vaccines to treat Nipah.
Authorities scrambling to contain the threat have also suspended public transport while over 800 potential contacts, including 153 health workers, have been identified and tested.
This is the fourth Nipah outbreak in Kerala since 2018.
“We are in a phase of hypervigilance and detection,” Veena George, the state’s health secretary, told Reuters.
“We are testing people and also collecting fluid samples from forest areas that could be the hotspot for the spread,” she said.
Scientists previously told The Sun that Nipah “could absolutely be the cause of a new pandemic.”
The United States considers the virus a Category C bioterrorism threat because it “could be manipulated for mass spread in the future.”
The virus primarily affects Bangladesh, where outbreaks occur almost every year.
This year, a total of 11 cases of Nipah, including eight deaths, were reported in the country between January 4 and February 13.
Other regions at risk of infection include Cambodia, Ghana, Indonesia, Madagascar, the Philippines and Thailand.
The 10 symptoms of Nipah
Some people experience no symptoms at all, while others experience severe symptoms.
For those who are sick, symptoms typically appear within four to 14 days of contracting the virus.
- Muscle aches
- cough and sore throat
- Altered consciousness
- Breathing disorder