Status: 18/09/2023, 21:46 p.m.
By: Felix Busjaeger
India reports an outbreak of the Nipah virus. At least two people are said to have died from the infection. What is known so far about symptoms and course.
New Delhi – The deaths of two people from the Nipah virus are currently causing concern in India. While the affected regions in the southern part of the country have largely shut down public life, the world's population may feel reminded of the years 2020/2021. At that time, the coronavirus had a firm grip on numerous countries, many people died and for a long time it was unclear which course of action against the virus was the best. But how dangerous is the Nipah virus? What is known so far about the outbreak in India.
|Nipah virus||Virus species of the family Paramyxoviridae|
|Symptoms||Fever, headache, muscle aches, vomiting, sore throat.|
|Mortality rate||40 to 75 percent|
What is the Nipah virus? This is how the pathogen spreads
The Nipah virus has been breaking out in India for several years. The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies the pathogen as a potential cause of epidemics. The biggest problems are that the Nipah virus has a high mortality rate, and there is no vaccine. The common procedure is to seal off affected regions in the event of an outbreak of the virus. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI), among others, has also defined what the Nipah virus is: Infections with the viruses are listed as a "threatening disease" in Germany, for example, as are the Ebola or Zika virus or Covid-19.
Medical staff take blood samples from a goat on 07.09.2021 to test it for the Nipah virus. The Nipah virus has now been reconfirmed. © Shijith. K/AP/dpa
Nipah virus is usually transmitted from fruit bats, bats or pigs to humans. Another danger comes from contaminated food or human contact. The first Nipah outbreak was recorded in 1998, when the virus had spread among pig farmers in Malaysia. The village where the virus was discovered at the time is also its namesake. In general, outbreaks of the Nipah virus are considered rare.
What are the known symptoms of the Nipah virus?
While some Nipah virus infections can be asymptomatic, the overall mortality rate is . By comparison, the case mortality rate from Corona is 0.5 percent in Germany and 1.2 percent in India. As a rule, acute respiratory infections and fatal inflammation of the brain tissue (encephalitis) occur. Common symptoms of Nipah virus infection include, but are not limited to: fever, headache, muscle aches, vomiting, and sore throat.
As the infection with the Nipah virus progresses, dizziness, drowsiness, impaired consciousness and neurological symptoms may follow. In addition, acute pneumonia and respiratory problems are possible. According to the WHO, in severe cases, seizures also occur, which can lead to coma within 24 to 48 hours. After recovery, secondary diseases are also possible.
Incubation period for the Nipah virus: what experts know about the contagion
In the case of other diseases, such as Covid-19, it quickly became apparent at the time that different incubation periods were possible depending on the variant of the virus. In the case of the Nipah virus, experts from the WHO give an average of four to 14 days until the first symptoms of an infection appear. However, an incubation period of up to 45 days has been reported.
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How long has the Nipah virus been around and when was the first outbreak?
The first Nipah outbreak killed more than 100 people in Malaysia. To contain the virus, one million pigs were culled. The virus also spread to Singapore, where slaughterhouse workers had come into contact with pigs imported from Malaysia. Eleven of them fell ill and one died. Other outbreaks occurred in Bangladesh and India.
Since the 2000s, there have been repeated outbreaks of the Nipah virus. The current infections are now the fourth Nipah outbreak in the state within five years. Infection with the pathogen was confirmed in four other people. In the past, the authorities managed to contain the spread of the Nipah virus in a relatively short time. At present, further contact persons are to be identified. (feb/dpa/afp)