Rare Virus In India Could Cause Global Epidemic
A rare disease has taken the lives of 14 people in India and health officials are now warning of the potential for a global epidemic. In the southwestern region of Kerala, the rarely experienced Nipah virus, which tends to mimic flu symptoms, has health officials on alert. However, Nipah virus eventually leads to encephalitis, which is a condition that causes the brain to swell.
Nipah virus kills 70% of those who become infected with it and there is no cure, no vaccine.
Read our Epidemic vs. Pandemic guide for more information.
The World Health Organization is ranking Nipah virus right up there with Ebola and Zika in terms of urgency.
The illness has been rare in terms of infections, since 1998, it has taken the lives of 260. Those deaths occurred in Bangladesh, Malaysia, and India.
Nipah is commonly spread by pigs, but in today’s cases, health officials are blaming fruit bats. People are being warned not to eat fruit they find on the ground, particularly any fruits that appear to have bite marks in them. Many of the dead bats tested have been found negative of Nipah virus, leading to a bit more mystery in the situation.
The region of Kozhikode has listed 200 people infected with Nipah virus. Health officials feel strongly that these recent cases can remain contained, but that hasn’t stopped officials from taking precautions as a way to prevent it from becoming a global epidemic.
Photo by CDC Global Health