Nipah Virus is way too vital compared to Covid-19. Director-General of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Rajiv Bahl, informed about the insane differences in mortality rates between the Nipah virus and COVID-19 during a press conference on Friday, Sep 15. Bahl emphasized that the Nipah virus exhibits significantly a higher mortality rate, ranging from 40% to 70%t as compared to COVID-19, which was approximately 2% to 3%.
Speaking at the press briefing held in light of a fresh Nipah virus case reported in Kozhikode, Kerala, Bahl shed light on the extensive efforts taken by health authorities to curb the outbreak, mainly due to the alarming fatality rates associated with the virus. He revealed that all individuals who had contracted the virus had been in close contact with a single index patient, or “patient zero,” highlighting the potential for rapid transmission. Kozhikode district has closed educational facilities until September 24 due to a Nipah virus outbreak. Over 1,000 individuals are there on the contact list, including 327 healthcare workers.
Bahl also disclosed that India has made a request for an additional 20 doses of monoclonal antibody, a treatment intended for early-stage Nipah virus exposure. Currently, the available supply of monoclonal antibody doses only covers treatment for ten patients, none of whom have received the medication thus far. Bahl clarified that efficacy trials for monoclonal antibodies have not advanced beyond the initial phase 1 trials, limiting their use to compassionate-care situation.
According to the Kerala’s Health Minister Veena George, the number of individuals who have been in contact with infected persons is rising. In a recent update, it has
revealed that the list now comprises over a thousand names out of which 327 are healthcare workers.
Twenty-nine people from other districts also appear on the contact list of those infected with the Nipah virus. A breakdown shows that most are from Malappuram (22), followed by Kannur and Thrissur (three each), and a solitary case in Wayanad.
The Health Minister emphasised that of the people classified as high risk, 122 are healthcare professionals. This puts them at a greater risk compared to 175 common individuals also categorised under high-risk.
According to the WHO the Nipah virus can cause symptoms ranging from mild respiratory issues to fatal encephalitis. Transmitted from animals like bats or pigs and even from human to human, the virus leaves no room for complacency. Worryingly, no vaccines or specific treatments are available yet; the primary recourse is supportive care.
Symptoms of Nipah virus are headaches, muscle pain, fever, sore throat and vomitting. Advanced stages can make one so sick that it may result in severe respiratory problems, encephalitis, seizures and even coma within 24 to 48 hours, as per WHO.
The time between getting infected to notice the symptoms is usually 4 to 14 days but can extend up to 45 days. Most survivors recover fully from acute encephalitis, around 20% of them usually face lingering neurological problems like seizures and personality changes, WHO added this .
There is no specific medications or vaccinations exist for the treatment of Nipah virus infection. Despite this, WHO, in their Research and Development Blueprint has flagged Nipah to be a disease of priority . For severe respiratory and neurological issues caused by the virus, intensive supportive care is advisable as precautions.