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Threat of Nipah virus round the corner: Health Experts

Nipah Virus

A fatal infection with the name Nipah carried by bats has just caused human flare-ups crosswise over South and South East Asia and has “serious epidemic potential”, global health and infectious disease specialists said on Monday. The virus was said to have been identified in 1999 in Malaysia and Singapore, has today sparked outbreaks with mortality rates of between 40% and 90% and spread thousands of kilometres to Bangladesh and India — yet there are no drugs or vaccines against it, they said.

“Twenty years have passed since its discovery, but the world is still not adequately equipped to tackle the global health threat posed by Nipah virus,” said Richard Hatchett, chief executive of the CEPI Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, which is co-leading a Nipah conference this week in Singapore.

CEPI, an association between disease specialists, and public, private, philanthropic, and civil organisations, was set up in 2017, in an attempt to accelerate the advancement of antibodies against recently rising and obscure irresistible infections. Among its first malady targets is Nipah, an infection conveyed principally by specific sorts of natural product bats and pigs, which can likewise be transmitted straightforwardly from individual to individual just as through sullied nourishment.

Inside two years of being initially found, Nipah had spread to Bangladesh, where it has caused a few flare-ups since 2001. A 2018 Nipah episode in Kerala slaughtered 17 individuals. “Outbreaks of Nipah virus have so far been confined to South and Southeast Asia, but the virus has serious epidemic potential, because Pteropus fruit bats that carry the virus are found throughout the tropics and sub-tropics, which are home to more than two billion people,” Hatchett said.

According to him, since Nipah can also pass from person to person, it could, in theory, also spread into densely populated areas too. The two-day Nipah conference, the first to focus on this deadly virus, is being co-hosted by CEPI and the Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore and starts on Monday. “There are currently no specific drugs or vaccines for Nipah virus infection, even though the World Health Organization has identified (it) as a priority disease,” said Wang Linfa, a Duke NUS professor and co-chair the conference. He hoped the meeting would stimulate experts to find ways of finding Nipah.

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