Deadly Virus Outbreak in India

( – Indian health authorities are urgently working to contain an outbreak of the Nipah virus, which has claimed two lives and has a World Health Organization-acknowledged fatality rate of up to 75%.

In the southern state of Kerala, approximately 800 individuals have undergone testing in recent days. Following positive diagnoses, two adults and a child have been hospitalized, as reported by Reuters.

Veena George, the state’s health minister, stated, “We are conducting tests on individuals, and simultaneously, experts are collecting samples from forested areas, which could be potential hotspots for the virus’s spread. We are maintaining a state of heightened vigilance for early detection.”

In response to the outbreak, certain parts of the region have closed public offices, government buildings, and religious institutions. Samples from bats, animal droppings, and partially consumed fruit were gathered from the village where the initial victim resided, as per Reuters. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) categorizes the Nipah virus as zoonotic, meaning it can transfer from animals to humans. Fruit bats are identified as the primary carriers of the virus in nature.

According to the CDC, the Nipah virus is known to cause illness in both pigs and humans, resulting in symptoms ranging from mild to severe, often associated with encephalitis, which involves brain swelling and can be fatal.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that the fatality rate of the Nipah virus typically ranges from 40% to 75%, contingent on the local capacity for epidemiological surveillance and clinical management during a given outbreak.

WHO also outlined the progression of symptoms in infected individuals, beginning with fever, headaches, muscle pain, vomiting, and a sore throat. These initial symptoms may escalate to dizziness, drowsiness, altered consciousness, and neurological signs indicative of acute encephalitis. Severe cases may involve atypical pneumonia, significant respiratory issues, and encephalitis, ultimately leading to coma within 24 to 48 hours.

The CDC emphasizes that the virus spreads through direct contact with infected animals or humans and their bodily fluids, as well as through the consumption of contaminated food products.

Regarding treatment, the CDC states that currently, there’s no specific cure, and medical care focuses on supportive measures, including rest, hydration, and addressing symptoms as they manifest.

Notably, India and Bangladesh have witnessed past Nipah virus outbreaks, with 62 fatalities in 2001 and 21 in India’s Kerala state in 2018, as per Reuters.