An expert has warned that the Nipah virus is one of the top candidates for a new pandemic which could “happen with increasing frequency” due to the growing overlap between humans and animals.
Author and science journalist Dr David Quammen spoke at the centre for climate change and sustainability and said a pig farm in northern Malaysia saw infected fruit bats spread Nipah virus to pigs.
Then the farmers caught the deadly virus and residents heard a loud “chorus of coughing” from miles away as thousands of pigs had caught Nipah.
The fruit bats had started to travel further to find food as forests were cleared to for the large pig farms which are surrounded by trees with fruit.
The bats travelled to those trees to feed of them and then dropped infected fruit and droppings into the industrial pig farms which then infected the pigs.
Dr Quammen said this how is how the Nipah virus made the jump from animals to humans which then started to infect people in the surrounding areas.
Dr Quammen said, “The pigs then began becoming infected by the fruit dropped by the bats, that then went on to infect the pig farmers.”
He warned this unprecedented “demand on the natural world” could result which a very high chance of a Nipah virus breakout globally.
The Nipah virus causes excruciatingly painful symptoms brought on by brain swelling due to the effects of encephalitis.
Encephalitis is a sudden inflammation of the brain brought on by a viral infection which can lead to death.
The Nipah virus is zoonotic which can jump from animals to humans which has a deadly mortality rate of up to 75% and can take 45 days to show symptoms.
Speaking to The Sun newspaper, Dr Melanie Saville, head of vaccine research and development at the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations warned that the world must start to prepare for the next big outbreak post-Covid.
Dr Saville added, “Nipah is one of the viruses that could absolutely be the cause of a new pandemic.
“Several things about Nipah are very concerning.
“Most crucially we shouldn’t just be looking at Nipah.
“We know that a future pandemic is inevitable, and there are many other emerging infectious diseases that are recognised as having pandemic potential.”
The health website Gavi Alliance, gave a grim warning that the virus does transmit to humans, there is fear it could be devastating.
The Gavi Alliance said, “If the virus spreads to other parts of India and beyond, the potential for it to escalate into an epidemic, or pandemic, is high.
“Even though high case-fatality rates can sometimes actually prevent diseases from spreading, because it can mean a patient dies before they have a chance to pass it on to others, if the virus were to mutate to spread more easily between people, the outcome would likely be utterly devastating.”