According to the Associated Press, India's southern state of Kerala is rapidly ramping up efforts to halt an outbreak of the deadly Nipah virus, despite the fact that the state is currently battling SARS-CoV-2 that poses a greater threat.

Kerala was put on high alert when a 12-year-old boy died of the unusual illness on September 6 local time, prompting health officials to begin tracking and quarantining hundreds of others who had contact with the boy.

Samples from eight close contacts were found to be negative, according to health officials. "The eight close contacts tested negative, which is a relief to us," Kerala's health minister said.

Nipah virus was first identified during an outbreak in Malaysia in the late 1990s and, like SARS-CoV-2 (, is an RNA virus that can be transmitted by fruit bats, pigs, and human-to-human contact. Nipah virus is closely related to Hendra virus, both belonging to the genus Hendra Nipah virus, a new class of virus in the family Paramyxoviridae. Nipah causes severe disease in infected individuals, characterized by inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) or respiratory disease. There is no vaccine for this virus. The only treatment is supportive care to restrain complications.

The World Health Organization estimates that the lethality rate of Nipah virus is between 40 and 75 percent, much higher than that of the SARS-CoV-2.

In 2018, Kerala experienced a small epidemic of the Nipah virus, which resulted in the deaths of a dozen people. The state has made national headlines in recent weeks for having the highest number of new cases per day in India. The introduction of the Nipah virus has struck the region a devastating blow.

"This serves as a reminder to the public that other viruses will not take a break from the COVID-19 pandemic," According to Forbes magazine.

"Nipah virus is one of the viruses that really needs attention." According to John Lednicki, a professor in the Department of Environmental and Global Health at the University of Florida.

The virus was listed in 2018 as one of the priority diseases that can cause serious international outbreaks in the "World Health Organization (WHO) Blueprint for Research and Development" and is in the fourth most dangerous level on the biosafety scale.

After Nipah virus infects humans, the incubation period of infection ranges from 4 to 14 days, with a maximum of 45 days. Initially, symptoms such as fever, headache, myalgia (muscle pain), vomiting, and sore throat may occur. Due to the atypical initial symptoms, some patients are misdiagnosed and missed. In some infected individuals, symptoms worsen with dizziness, drowsiness, confusion, and neurological signs indicative of acute encephalitis. In severe cases, encephalitis and seizures can occur, leading to coma within 24-48 hours. Nipah virus infection also has a high rate of disability. 20% of those who recover are left with neurological sequelae such as epilepsy and personality changes. A small number of people who recover will have a relapse or develop delayed encephalitis.

"Another important issue is that pharmaceutical companies all across the world appear to be unprepared." According to CBS News.

According to a Forbes health op-ed, there has been a lot of research on Nipah virus prevention and treatment, but most of it has been aborted due to toxicity, side effects, etc., once it gets from the lab to humans. Part of the reason for this is the difficulty of developing antiviral drugs ( Viruses lack their own cellular structure and metabolic system, therefore they must rely on the host cell to replicate and grow. As a result, finding compounds that target exclusively viral sites while not harming the host cell's normal function is tough.

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