#brain-damagingNipahvirus, #U.S.CentersforDiseaseControlandPrevention; #Kerala, #SouthernIndia, #DrIsaacBogoch; #WorldHealthOrganization, #HanaWeingartl
Ottawa, May 25 (Canadian-Media): There had been an outbreak of a rare brain-damaging Nipah virus in southern India, the first reported outbreak in the country, causing a alarm to the health officials working to treat those infected with the virus, media reports said.
"It's in the southern part of India, in Kerala, where it has never been seen before," said Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist at Toronto General Hospital who treats tropical diseases.
The virus had been blamed for reportedly 10 deaths including a nurse, in Kerala state, the epicentre of the outbreak.
Nipah Virus Infection/Wikipedia
Beaches, the main tourist attraction of Kerala are not as busy as normal as due to many cancellations by the tourist agents in the beaches
The Kerala outbreak "is definitely a concern," Hana Weingartl, a research scientist and head of the special pathogens unit at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease (CFIANCFAD) in Winnipeg, said. " As a scientist, I would like to know how bad it is, what it is, what is the transmission route."
The virus responsible for nearly 300 human cases and 100 deaths was, discovered in Malaysia in 1999, and is named after the Malaysian village where it was first identified.
People who eat fruit that's been in contact with bat, which are the natural reservoir of the disease, reportedly can pick up the infection, Bogoch said.
Fruit bats, source of Nipah virus/Wikipedia
Although fever, chills, muscle aches and pain are the initial signs, ultimatetly the virus causes encephalitis, inflammation of the brain.
Some people suffer from seizures and headaches but severe inflammation can reportedly cause a coma.
Close contact with an infected person should be avoided either by health-care providers or family members.
Bogoch said that death rate ranges from 40 percent to 75 percent.
Many survivors of the virus are left with continuing problems. "Those can include cognitive deficits, some people are left with a seizure disorder afterwards and there's been reports of hearing and vision changes," Bogoch said.
In the absence of any specific treatment or commercial vaccine for humans or animals, prevention is the best recourse for managing the illness.
"In a way it's work which is a little bit invisible because we don't have Nipah virus in Canada, so people are not aware about the danger," Weingartl said in an interview and added,
"But internationally, it is important to be able to work with the virus and be prepared because the virus is changing, and similarly to influenza it is quite possible it can … obtain the ability to readily transmit from humans to humans."
Three candidate vaccines in animals had been tested in the lab, one intended for humans use eventually and the others for veterinary use.
But Companies reportedly did not find the vaccine as an attractive proposition
Of the three, the first was excellent, she said, but the company had decided not to follow up.
The second reportedly needed more work, and England and Australia are busy working on it.
The third alternative is being tested by Weingartl and her team.
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)