Nipah virus could evolve to spread globally, Stanford researcher says

Nipah virus could evolve to spread globally, Stanford researcher says

Two more people have died in the outbreak of Nipah virus in the southern Indian state of Kerala, taking the total number of deaths due to the brain-damaging disease to 15, officials said on Thursday.

Reports say that his body fluids have been sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune which is the only agency in the country to certify whether it was a case of Nipah virus or not.

After Ebola and Zika, it's now the Nipah virus that's struck fear into the hearts of people. Health department officials said that large fruit bats of Pteropus genus are the natural reservoir of NiV.

The Nipah virus is a zoonotic disease that is naturally transmitted from vertebrate animals to humans, while human-to-human transmission has also been documented.

A World Health Organization report on Nipah Virus Infection states that "there is strong evidence that emergence of bat-related viral infections communicable to humans and animals has been attributed to the loss of natural habitats of bats".

Besides, nine persons were under close observation for the virus, he said. In Tamil Nadu, state Health Minister C Vijaya Baskar has said the government has taken precautionary steps to prevent the appearance of the virus in the state. He was admitted to hospital on 20 May, seven days after his return from a month's holiday in Kerala. This means you don't need to find giant fruit bats roosting where people were initially infected; they could have flown in from ten kilometers-six miles-away to eat some fruit or drink sap in that backyard the night someone was infected. Another person died in Kolkata earlier in the day. Two other outbreaks of the virus were reported in 2001 and 2007, respectively, in eastern state of West Bengal that shares its border with Bangladesh, claiming 50 lives. "This virus can be tackled with precautions", Ekbal said. Symptoms include fever, headache, drowsiness, respiratory illness, disorientation and confusion.

Although Nipah virus has caused only a few outbreaks, it infects a wide range of animals and causes severe disease and death in people, making it a public health concern.

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