Indian authorities are rushing to contain an outbreak of the deadly Nipah virus after a 12-year-old boy died of a brain swelling in the southern state of Kerala. While not new, the pathogen has put the international medical community on alert.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said that it monitors the cases of the disease, which has a mortality rate ranging from 40 to 75%, much higher than the 1% rate for the coronavirus.
The virus has claimed victims since February and scientists fear it will cause a new pandemic.
What is Nipah Virus
The Nipah virus can be transmitted to humans from bats and contaminated food. Transmission can also take place directly from person to person.
In infected people, the virus causes a range of symptoms, from acute respiratory syndromes to brain inflammation. There is still no vaccine or cure, only a treatment for the disease.
There is still no vaccine or cure, only a treatment for the disease. The virus was first identified in Malaysia and is currently causing more cases in India.
Signals and symptons
The incubation period (range from infection to onset of symptoms) is believed to range from 4 to 14 days.
Initially, some people often experience symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle aches, vomiting, and sore throat.
This condition can be followed by dizziness, drowsiness, altered consciousness and neurological signs that indicate acute encephalitis. Some people may also have atypical pneumonia and severe breathing problems, including acute respiratory distress.
According to WHO, encephalitis and seizures occur in severe cases, progressing to coma within 24 to 48 hours.
In milder cases, however, some people may develop the infection asymptomatically.