Nipah Virus is More Deadly than Covid-19, Expert Says
India – Recently, the Nipah Virus has killed two people in India. Nipah is a rare and potentially deadly virus that was first discovered in 1999 after an outbreak among pigs and pig farmers in Malaysia and Singapore.
This virus is a zoonotic virus that can spread from animals to humans and can infect humans through direct contact with infected animals or their bodily fluids or after eating contaminated food as fruit products contaminated with urine or saliva from infected bats.
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Director General, Dr. Rajeev Bahl, said that the mortality rate of the Nipah virus is very high, compared to Covid-19.
The mortality rate of the Nipah virus is estimated to be between 40 percent and 75 percent, while the mortality rate of Covid-19 is around 2-3 percent.
This means that Nipah virus is a much more deadly disease than Covid-19. However, it is important to note that the Nipah virus is also much less transmissible than Covid-19.
Nipah virus is spread through direct contact with infected bats or pigs, or contaminated food or water. Covid-19, on the other hand, is spread through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
The symptoms of the Nipah virus are similar to Covid-19, such as cough, sore throat, dizziness, drowsiness, muscle pain, tiredness, encephalitis (swelling of the brain), headache, stiff neck, sensitivity to light, mental confusion, and seizures.
"We don't know why the cases keep surfacing. In 2018, we found the outbreak in Kerala was related to bats. We are not sure how the infection passed from bats to humans," Bahl informed.
According to him, India would obtain 20 additional doses of monoclonal antibody from Australia for the treatment of Nipah virus infection.
“We got some doses of monoclonal antibody from Australia in 2018. Currently, the doses are available for only 10 patients," he remarked.
“…20 more doses are being procured. However, the medicine needs to be given during the early stage of the infection. Only phase 1 trial to establish the safety of the medicine has been done outside. Efficacy trials have not been done. It can only be given as compassionate use medicine,”
While the antibody has been successfully provided to 14 people worldwide, no one has received the doses in India so far.
Six people have tested positive for the deadly Nipah virus in Kerala, out of which two have died due to the infection. The outbreak is the first reported case of Nipah virus in Kerala in over two years.
A five-member Central team comprising experts from the National Centre for Disease Control, RML Hospital, and NIMHANS has been stationed in Kerala to take stock of the situation and assist the state government in the management of the Nipah infection.