Nipah's Back

Extremely Deadly Virus Spreading in India

Authorities sealed off a two-mile radius around the first patient's home.

Sep 8 / Dan Robitzski
DeFodi Images via Getty
Image by DeFodi Images via Getty

The state government of Kerala in India is currently scrambling to fight an outbreak of the extremely deadly Nipah virus after it killed a 12-year-old boy on Sunday.

The Nipah virus is considered to be one of the deadliest to ever infect humans, CBS News reports. The last time there was a Nipah outbreak in India, it killed 17 of the 18 patients who were infected. The disease is far less contagious than COVID-19 — which is still infecting about 41,000 people in India every day — but with a 45-day incubation period, no cure or vaccine, a roughly 20 percent chance of long-term neurological symptoms among survivors, and an approximately 75 percent mortality rate in the first place, even small outbreaks pose a serious public health threat.

Officials in the area are taking the new outbreak extremely seriously. As of Monday, they’ve identified, quarantined, and tested at least 188 people who came into contact with the boy, according to CBS. They also sealed off the entire area within about two miles from the boy’s home in an attempt to physically contain the outbreak in case contact tracing measures fail.

So far, two healthcare workers who treated the young boy are showing symptoms of Nipah infection, according to CBS, which also reports that other infections have been confirmed. Both healthcare workers have been hospitalized and are currently waiting for the results of their blood tests.

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Last September, White House Chief Medical Advisor Anthony Fauci warned that humanity has entered a “pandemic” era in which outbreaks of viruses including Nipah will only grow increasingly common.

Specifically, Nipah keeps coming back in southeast Asia because ongoing environmental destruction has destroyed wildlife habitats and put animals — including the bat species believed to harbor it — in closer proximity to human communities than ever before. As such, officials in Kerala are now warning residents to steer clear of any bats and to trash any fruit that shows signs of bats taking a nibble.


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