Rare Virus Kills More Than A Dozen In India – Officials Warn It Could Be A Global Epidemic

At least 13 dead in Southern India after an outbreak of a rare virus called Nipah rushed the State of Kerala. Though the virus is believed to be carried by fruitbats, it is transferable to both humans and animals, alike. The deadly virus is in the same risk category as Zika and Ebola.

Emergency measures have been imposed across the southwestern state of Kerala following the emergence of the Nipah virus, which causes flu-like symptoms leading to an agonizing brain-swelling condition known as encephalitis,  Sky News reported.

According to Fox News, there is no vaccine for Nipah, which has a mortality rate of 70 percent, and no treatment beyond supportive care to make patients comfortable. The virus is listed alongside Ebola and Zika as one of eight priority diseases the World Health Organization believes could cause a global epidemic.

Health officials believe this outbreak began with someone infected by a fruit bat, a senior Health Ministry official told the Press Trust of India news agency. They also believe the other cases were caused by human-to-human contact which shows just how contagious this disease really is.

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It has now been close to a week since the dreaded Nipah virus outbreak hit Kozhikode in north Kerala. The state government would like the rest of the world to believe that its efforts to contain the virus to as small an area as possible have been successful.

To a large extent, that claim does have merit. Even though one more person died on Saturday afternoon, the death was reported from Kozhikode itself.

But more attention needs to be given to the question as to how the virus outbreak happened in this part of the world. This is an issue which baffles health experts.

It is unclear how the virus landed up in Kozhikode, which is close to three thousand kilometers away from Siliguri in West Bengal, where the last such outbreak was reported way back in 2001. Bangladesh, which saw several Nipah cases till 2017, is also a huge distance away from Kozhikode.

Health officials have been burning the midnight oil to ensure that the outbreak is contained. In a matter of further worry for them, test results from the National Institute of High-Security Animal Diseases (NISHAD), Bhopal came in.