What is the deadly Nipah virus?


The Nipah virus outbreak in southern India this week has claimed 12 lives to date.

According to the World Health Organization the virus is “a newly emerging zoonosis that causes severe disease in both animals and humans. The natural host of the virus are fruit bats of the pteropodidae family, pteropus genus.”

It can kill between 40 to 100% of those affected. The virus emerged in Malaysia in 1998 as a porcine neurologic and respiratory disease that spread to humans who had contact with live, infected pigs.

Nipah virus has caused five subsequent outbreaks between 2001 and 2005 in Bangladesh. 

Symptoms of the virus include:

  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Drowsiness
  • Respiratory problems
  • Disorientation
  • Mental confusion
  • Slipping into coma within 24-48 hours

There is no definitive treatment apart from supportive care and doctors are racing to create a vaccine.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Have you entered our Health of the Nation survey?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
27% - 9957 votes
73% - 26326 votes