Emerging threat of Nipah virus
A deadly virus called Nipah carried by bats has already caused human outbreaks across South and South East Asia, Reuters reports.
The virus, identified in 1999 in Malaysia and Singapore, has sparked outbreaks with mortality rates of between 40% and 90% and spread thousands of kilometers to Bangladesh and India, global health and infectious disease specialists said.
Nipah, a virus carried primarily by certain types of fruit bats and pigs, which can also be transmitted directly from person to person as well as through contaminated food.
Yet there are no drugs or vaccines against it.
Outbreaks of Nipah virus have so far been confined to South and Southeast Asia, but the virus has serious epidemic potential.
Twenty years have passed since its discovery, but the world is still not adequately equipped to tackle the global health threat posed by Nipah virus,” said Richard Hatchett, chief executive of the CEPI Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, which is co-leading a Nipah conference this week in Singapore.
The two-day Nipah conference, the first to focus on this deadly virus, is being co-hosted by CEPI and the Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore and starts on Monday.
There are currently no specific drugs or vaccines for Nipah virus infection, even though the World Health Organization has identified (it) as a priority disease,” said Wang Linfa, a Duke NUS professor and co-chair the conference. He hoped the meeting would stimulate experts to find ways of finding Nipah.