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27 May 2018, 12:17 | Melissa Porter
Nipah death toll in India hits 12 as CEPI funds vaccine efforts
"The ministry works with its strategic partners to assess the risk of importation of Nipah virus (NiV) cases to the country and put the necessary control measures".
The next steps are correlate-of-immunity studies to take place at a biosafety 4 level facility at Galveston National Laboratory and the development of clinical assays to evaluate vaccine response.
So far, the virus has claimed 12 lives in Kerala. Many more are kept under observation as they are suspected to have contracted the virus. "Citizens should follow preventive measures and hygiene", Ms Tiwari said.
In an effort to nip the thread in the bud, CEPI will grant up to $25 million over the next five years to US-based pharma firms Profectus BioSciences and Emergent BioSolutions in order to develop a vaccine against Nipah. It is not a proven treatment, but it is approved because of a few studies that have proved the anti-viral's benefits. "We are fully geared up", said Dr Reddy.
The virus has not spread beyond Kerala, the government said after investigation by health officials linked the initial deaths to a well colonised by bats whose water the victims had been using.
Since then, outbreaks have occurred nearly every year in Bangladesh, and twice before in the Indian state of West Bengal.
Spread of the virus to humans may occur after close contact with other Nipah infected people, infected bats, or infected pigs.
Two persons, including one who visited Kerala recently, were admitted to hospitals here with suspected Nipah virus infection even as the Telangana health authorities have advised people to avoid visiting Kerala.
The current understanding of Nipah virus so far is that the virus first attacks the respiratory system, and then spreads to the nervous system and the brain. The symptoms can progress to coma within 24-48 hours.
Be aware of the symptoms and report to the doctor immediately for early diagnosis and treatment recommends the advisory.
The health department will ensure that companies do not send their employees to affected areas in Kerala, said Ms Rajeshwari Tiwari, state officer of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had written to the Queensland government in Australia asking it to provide the antibody developed there to test if it can "neutralise" the virus in humans.
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