WHO expects new pandemic due to Nipah virus

The World Health Organization (WHO) has not ruled out the possibility of a pandemic that may be caused by the Nipah or NiV virus. It was first identified in 1999 in Malaysia among hog farmers living on the Nipah River, from which the disease got its name. Since then, there have been 12 more outbreaks in South Asia.

Mortality from NiV can be 40-75% and the virus spreads very quickly. The disease can be asymptomatic or cause fatal encephalitis. A cure has not yet been invented, reports The Guardian.

Natural carriers of the virus are frugivorous flying foxes from the order of winged foxes, widespread in southern China, Southeast Asia, New Guinea and Australia. The virus has also been detected in flying foxes living in Africa. At the same time the animals themselves are not sick.

As scientists found out, human infection occurred after contact with sick pigs, as well as through the consumption of fruits (primarily dates, fresh date palm juice), contaminated with excreta from infected wings.

To prevent NiV, the WHO recommends reducing flying foxes’ access to date palms and other fresh foods. Freshly picked date juice should be boiled and the fruit should be washed and peeled before consumption.

To reduce the risk of person-to-person transmission, WHO recommends avoiding physical contact with people infected with NiV, washing hands regularly and using personal protective equipment.

Earlier, on January 27, Microsoft founder Bill Gates said that the world is not ready for the next pandemic, which could be ten times worse than the situation with the coronavirus. In May 2020, the Brazilian ecologist also predicted a new pandemic. According to him, the spread of a new virus will arise due to the disturbance of the ecological balance, such as deforestation in the Amazon.