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Nipah Virus: The Next Global Pandemic?

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The Nipah virus comes from fruit bats commonly found in Thailand and other countries in SE Asia, including India. It was first discovered by Thai researchers in the late 1990's and has been carefully watched since then for any mutation strains that would allow it to crossover to humans, which so far, has not happened. But, like Covid-19, should it mutate to where it is airborne and easily spread through the respiratory tract of humans, it is far deadlier.

Nipah is far more nefarious because it has a long incubation time of up to 45 days, which means asymptomatic people would be spreading it for weeks. Its death rate among humans averages between 50-75%. Someone with Nipah virus may experience respiratory symptoms including a cough, sore throat, aches and fatigue, and encephalitis, a swelling of the brain which can cause seizures and death. As of now, the virus is only spread by eating contaminated food or juice and direct contact with fruit bats.

Thousands of these bats live in the trees and defecate. It is their "guano" that can spread the virus to humans with direct contact on the skin. There have been outbreaks in Bangladesh and India because the fruit bat contaminates the harvested Date Fruit juice being collected on farms. When people drink this become unknowingly exposed to the virus time clock. These outbreaks have occurred between 2001-2011, where 150 have died from Nipah. Cambodia and Malaysia are other countries that harvest this juice for sale within the SE Asia region. The juice has been exported to other countries thousands of miles away.

The virus can spread into the food eaten by humans via bat guano because locals sell it as soil fertilizer. As plants grow, the virus may transmit into the food chain, although, studies are still undecided about this transmission method. As bats are displaced from their normal habitats due to urbanization, it is known that they shed viruses due to stress and this is another fear about how Nipah may mutate into a pathogen spread much like Covid-19.

Nipah virus is so dangerous, it is considered by governments across the globe to have bioterrorism potential and only a handful of laboratories across the world are allowed to culture, grow and store it.

Will the Nipah virus mutate and spread into the food chain humans consume or become a strain that is airborne like Covid-19? It could. Already Covid-19 has mutated into an even more infectious strain. It may only be a matter of time until Nipah does the same.

Comments

perrya (author) on January 13, 2021:

Nobody wants another pandemic but being naïve is not the answer. WHO and the CDC among others are even more vigilant in their research and monitoring Nipah and others. Covid-19 flew under the radar many months in many places, misdiagnosed by health professionals, long before December 2019 in Wuhan China, as research shows. It takes years for a virus to mutate.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on January 12, 2021:

Sorry, but I don't want to think about another virus.

Covid-19 is quite enough & we don't have it under control.

I guess we can all go back to living like in the beginning with no socialization & keeping to our iwn families.

Liz Westwood from UK on January 12, 2021:

Having seen the chaos caused by COVID-19, the thought of another pandemic is a big concern.

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