As the world continues to come to grips with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, scientists say that a new “big” virus is potentially right around the corner. With a death rate of 75%, the brain-swelling Nipah disease has scientists worried across the globe.
The virus, which is yet another bat-borne disease, this time from the fruit bat, has sparked a wide range of fear among experts due to the virus having a high rate of mutation and is considered extremely deadly.
The virus, which jumped from pigs to farmers in the country of Malaysia in the late 90s, presents with the symptoms of vomiting, seizures, and brain swelling. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the recorded death rate from Nipah ranges anywhere between 40% - 75%, which is far higher in contrast to the current coronavirus at 1%, which means that a Nipah outbreak will kill many more people than COVID has.
Due to the nature of Nipah and its potential at triggering a far-reaching epidemic has been designated by WHO as one of sixteen priority pathogens requiring research and development. And if that isn't scary enough, Nipah is only one variety of viruses, out of 260, that have the potential of becoming an epidemic.
Unlike COVID, which can incubate for 14 days, Nipah’s incubation period is up to 45 days. This lengthy incubation period means those asymptomatic individuals can spread the virus for over a month before showing symptoms themselves. The virus also is suspected of being able to cross-species, again unlike the COVID virus.
If that wasn’t enough, the Nipah virus has a high mutation rate, prompting fears that a better-adapted strain to infections in humans could rapidly spread across those well-interconnected countries within South East Asia. Even considering that COVID has now taken the lives of an estimated 2.5 million people worldwide, experts warn that the next pandemic could prove to be much worse.
Experts believe that the Nipah virus could very well be the next "big one," adding that the world needs to prepare. There is no doubt that Nipah could be the primary factor and cause for the world's next pandemic since the family of viruses that Nipah belongs to are known to transmit easily between people.
Could the Nipah virus be the next pandemic around the corner?