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Will Nipah Virus Cause the Next Pandemic? Major Outbreak Has Fatality of Up to 75% and No Vaccine Available Yet

Nipah virus can kill as many as three out of four people or equivalent to a mortality rate of up to 75%. Unfortunately, there are no vaccines yet and experts are concerned that it might cause the next pandemic. As of now, they are trying to prevent this from happening as the world’s focus is on fighting coronavirus.

Nipah virus

Closeup view of the nipah virus. (PHOTO: GAVI)

Nipah Virus Explained

The Nipah virus (NiV) is a zoonotic illness from the family Paramyxoviridae, genus Henipavirus, which is related to the Hendra virus that infects horses. According to, it can be transmitted from animals to people and from one person to another and could also become the next pandemic like the coronavirus.

More so, it can cause significant reactions to pigs and fruit bats that may lead to significant economic losses for farmers. The World Health Organization said that the Nipah virus outbreaks have been recorded mostly in Asia and infected a wide range of animals and caused severe disease and death.

NiV was first discovered in 1999 in the village Kampung Sungai Nipah in Malaysia, MedicineNet reported. The outbreak reached Singapore and by 2001, it affected some people in Bangladesh and India. But there are also small outbreaks outside the region after that.

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Is it the Next Pandemic?

Humans who have direct contact with infected fruit bats or infected pigs are usually the sign that a new outbreak will begin. But those who also eat raw date palm sap contaminated with bat feces can also get infected with the disease.

Major symptoms could include brain inflammation (encephalitis), respiratory problems, and nerve disorders. As of now, treatment options are limited to supportive care, although the ribavirin drug is also prescribed by some physicians.

Optic Flux said in an article that experts are worried that it might become the cause of the next pandemic due to its high fatality rate and recent outbreaks. WHO has already identified the Nipah virus as a priority research as there are no drugs or vaccines available to combat the infection.

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