Nipah Virus Can Become Pandemic: Possibly Comes to Indonesia
Jakarta – In the southern Indian state of Kerala, the bat-borne Nipah virus has infected six people — two of whom have died — since it emerged in late August.
More than 700 people, including health-care workers, have been tested for infection over the past week.
State authorities have closed some schools, offices and public-transport networks.
The Nipah outbreak is the fourth to hit Kerala in five years, the most recent one was in 2021.
Although such outbreaks usually affect a relatively small geographical area, they can be deadly, and some scientists worry that increased spread among people could lead to the virus becoming more contagious.
The virus can cause fever, vomiting, respiratory issues and inflammation in the brain.
The Epidemiology expert from Griffith University Australia, Dicky Budiman revealed that the the nipah virus threat can become a pandemic.
Even World Health Organization has identified the nipah virus as one of the ten diseases included in the WHO list of potential pandemics.
However, he revealed that in general the threat of the nipah virus becoming a pandemic is not as great as when compared to the corona virus family such as COVID-19, SARS and MERS.
This is because in terms of transmission, the nipah virus is less effective than the coronavirus family.
"The coronavirus family can spread through droplets, in this case air. The nipah virus must be spread through liquids or food that has been contaminated to the virus either from bat urine or bat feces. This is the difference," Budiman conveyed on Wednesday.
"Nipah virus has the potential to become endemic in an area and then become an Extraordinary Event (KLB) or outbreak in an area," he added.
Budiman also said: "The nipah virus has the potential to occur in Indonesia, because Indonesia is a hotspot area for new diseases or those originating from zoonotic diseases."
According to Budiman, Indonesia has society that borders directly with nature, which is not well organized. Even in urban areas, animal husbandry is not well organized.
Indonesia, he continued, has a potential for the coming of nipah virus.
"As known, the nipah virus was first discovered in Malaysia, Singapore, which is no different in nature from Indonesia, the bat is also the same as Indonesia. But in the context of detection, Malaysia and Singapore are much better," Budiman remarked.
Although not yet detected, Nipah Virus have a possibility of coming to Indonesia.
"It (Nipah Virus) could exist in Indonesia but because we always have a detection problem," Budiman said.
"Therefore, anticipatory mitigation for all zoonotic diseases that have the potential to become outbreaks must be with a one health approach, namely integrated, real programs in the fields of human and animal health and the environment,"
Budiman also revealed that behavioral changes, lifestyle changes, strengthening surveillance, and health systems are very important for the Indonesian future.