Nipah virus

By Raeesa Hussain

Over a dozen people have died in India following a sudden outbreak of the rare Nipah virus.

The World Health Organisation warned that the disease, which has killed at least 13 people, could become a global epidemic.

The virus has currently affected the South-western Kerala region, and emergency containment measures have been put in place to stop the disease from spreading elsewhere.

Nipah is listed in the top eight priority diseases alongside Ebola and the Zika virus, with a mortality rate of 70%.

Symptoms of the virus are similar to those of the flu and include severe brain inflammation known as encephalitis along with nerve disorders and respiratory problems.

The disease can cause some sufferers to fall into a coma.

Nipah is a zoonotic disease, transferred amongst animals such as pigs and bats. Transference to humans is most likely caused by direct contact with the animals carrying the disease.

Human carriers are also contagious to people they have proximity with, such as family members.

The virus has previously been associated with pigs, but the recent outbreak is believed to be carried by fruit bats. Several fruit bats were found dead in a well owned by a family who lost four members to the deadly disease.

According to media reports in the area, almost 200 patients are being treated in the Kozhikode district, where the virus emerged. 26 are under observation, and three are undergoing intense treatment. A nurse in Kozhikode was among the fatalities.

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