Work on a Nipah vaccine should start immediately

The UAE has already issued a travel advisory to expats to avoid visits to Kerala until the outbreak is contained.

There is no conclusive evidence to suggest that bats are the source of the Nipah virus ourtbreak in Kerala, a southern state in India. But early findings point to these creatures of the night, specifically fruit bats, as the source. The virus has already claimed 13 lives in the coastal state with cases also being reported from neighbouring states, Karnataka and Goa. What's of concern is that the disease has claimed lives of people of different ages, and those who have prior medical conditions or compromised systems. Life in Kozhikode and Malappuram districts of Kerala, the epicentre so to speak, have been worst hit as social media has been busy fanning fears about the deadly nature of the virus and the dangers it can pose to the community. The multiplicity of media in the tech age and duplicity of opinion is making it hard for the authorities to focus and find a cure, or home in on the exact source of the pestilence. So if the Nipha has resided in bats, has it turned deadlier this time? Early reports suggest it may not have mutated, which offers some cause for relief to those tackling the disease and treating the sick.

This is the window of opportunity to get to the bottom of the health crisis and find a solution to the epidemic that is gripping the state, and threatens its tourism industry and economy. The UAE has already issued a travel advisory to expats to avoid visits to Kerala until the outbreak is contained. The Kerala government has moved swiftly to bring in experts to find the 'host' bats that bear the virus. What it needs is a cure, and fast. There have been outbreaks in different parts of the world since 1988 when the strain was first detected in Malaysia. Between 1998 and 2015, 600 cases of Nipah in humans were reported, mostly in Bangladesh and India. The last reported outbreaks were from the state of West Bengal in India, in 2001 and 2007. Seventy cases were reported. But sadly, a preventive vaccine was not attempted, which has led to this tragedy. Ebola now has a vaccine, but it took 11,315 people to perish to find a preventive cure. It would be foolish to delay one for Nipah. Why wait for another outbreak?

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