Lethal virus kills teenagers and leaves health authorities on alert for spread

More lethal than Covid-19, the Nipah virus killed a 12-year-old and new cases of infection were confirmed; see the place

The Nipah virus is lethal in humans and has worried Indian authorities after killing a 12-year-old boy in Kerala state, India. The death was registered last Sunday (5) and, with the tracking of the victim’s contacts, new cases of infections were confirmed.

Bat is captured for study in May 2018 in Kerala state –  Photo: Social Networks/NDBat is captured for study in May 2018, in the state of Kerala – Photo: Social Networks/ND

According to the Health Minister of Kerala, Veena George, 188 people who had contact with the boy were identified on Monday (6). Among these, 20 are considered to be at high risk of contamination and are part of the adolescent’s family.

Persons screened are quarantined or hospitalized. In addition to family members, two health agents who attended to the teenager showed symptoms of Nipah and are awaiting test results. The region where the boy lived was put on alert.

“There is no need to panic, but we need to be careful,” said the minister. This is the second time in two years that Nipah has been identified in the state.

The virus is on the WHO (World Health Organization) list of diseases and pathogens prioritized for research and development in emergency contexts.

know the virus

Like Covid-19, Nipah is a virus transmitted from animals to humans through direct contact or contaminated food. Still, India has recorded human-to-human transmission of the disease.

Bats of the Pteropodidae family are the natural carriers of the virus. They also transmit Nipah to other animals such as pigs, dogs, cats, goats, horses and sheep. The first record of the disease occurred among pig farmers in Malaysia, in 1999.

So far, Nipah has been shown to be less transmissible than coronavirus but far more lethal. According to the WHO, about 75% of infections are fatal while the fatality rate for Covid-19 is at 2%.

Symptoms and Treatment

Among the mild symptoms of the disease are: fever, headache, vomiting, sore throat and muscle pain. More severe cases can present with acute infections and respiratory problems.

Other signs seen are seizures, which can lead to coma or personality change. There is a possibility of asymptomatic Nipah virus patients.

With no cure or vaccine against the virus, patients receive only medication to alleviate symptoms.

*With information from Agência Estado and CBSNews.