The Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Rajeev Bahl, has emphasized the substantially higher mortality rate of the Nipah virus compared to the Covid-19 pandemic. Speaking at a press conference, Bahl disclosed that while Covid-19’s mortality rate hovers between two to three percent, Nipah carries a staggering death rate ranging from 40 to 70 percent.
Efforts are underway to staunch the spread of this deadly virus in India, particularly in the southern state of Kerala, where recent cases have sparked concerns. Addressing the ongoing challenges, ICMR DG Rajeev Bahl stated, “We do not 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. The link could not be established. Again we are trying to find out this time. It always happens in the rainy season.”
To combat the Nipah virus, India is set to procure an additional 20 doses of monoclonal antibody from Australia. However, these doses are currently available for only ten patients. Bahl emphasized the need for administering the medicine during the early stages of infection, revealing that while phase 1 trials to establish the medicine’s safety have been conducted elsewhere, efficacy trials have not yet been completed. As a result, it can only be given as compassionate use medicine. To date, no individuals in India have received these doses.
The Nipah outbreak in Kerala has led to six confirmed cases, with two resulting in fatalities due to the infection. In response, authorities have tightened restrictions in the Kozhikode district, closing educational institutions, parks, beaches, and banning prayer gatherings and public events.
Nipah virus is a zoonotic illness transmitted from animals to humans, with fruit bats being the primary carriers. It can also spread through contaminated food or direct human-to-human transmission. The virus poses a significant threat to both humans and animals and can result in severe illness, including encephalitis (brain swelling) and a range of symptoms such as cough, sore throat, dizziness, muscle pain, fatigue, headache, and seizures. Its ability to affect animals like pigs can also lead to substantial economic losses for farmers.
Sources By Agencies