The real Contagion virus is out there and it's causing virologists to worry

The real Contagion virus is out there and it's causing virologists to worry

Publication date: Oct 29, 2020

The infected pig is slaughtered and prepared by a chef, who passes the bat virus via a handshake to Paltrow (as Beth) – patient zero.

Named for the village Sungai Nipah in Malaysia, Nipah virus was first identified in 1999 after an outbreak in pigs that went on to infect nearly 300 people in contact with the pigs.

It was assumed the pigs contracted the virus by eating fruit contaminated by flying fox fruit bats.

Scientists later discovered small outbreaks of the virus in Bangladesh and India, with fruit contaminated with bat saliva or urine the most likely culprit.

-We suspect that Nipah virus has been spilling over to people for decades in Bangladesh,” says Dr Raina Plowright at Montana State University, who specialises in disease spill-overs that originate in bats, including Nipah virus.

He was infected with Nipah virus and went on to infect 18 other people at two hospitals.

Nipah virus belongs to a family (paramyxoviruses) that includes measles and mumps, both of which spread really well, notes Dr Rebecca Dutch, virologist at the University of Kentucky.

-If there were small changes in Nipah virus that enhanced its ability to spread from human to human, then we would be looking at a pandemic virus with a really high mortality rate. “

-The best theory would be that those viruses right now don’t generate a lot of infectious particles that are airborne or coming out of infected people as they breathe out,” Dutch adds – perhaps because they don’t get into the airway until late in the infection.

Scientists still debate over why bats seem to harbour so many viruses.

If there are more spill-over events from bats to people, this offers opportunities for Nipah virus to mutate in ways that allow it to one day hop more efficiently from person to person.

Covid-19 does not make a Nipah virus outbreak more or less likely, but it does put us on notice that we need to be better prepared for what is out there, he believes.

Dutch rejects the idea of the Covid-19 pandemic is a once in a century event, noting we have just finished the worst Ebola outbreak in Africa, we had Zika virus emerge, we had the 2009 flu pandemic and now we have Covid-19.

The Nipah virus candidate contains part of the surface protein of Hendra virus, a closely related virus from fruit bats that sporadically infects and kills horses and people in Australia.

The scientists investigated how similar the docking protein (ACE2) that the virus uses to latch onto cells is between humans and 410 animal species.

More unexpected was that whales and dolphins (cetaceans) scored as at high risk due to the similarity of their ACE2 receptor, which suggests that the virus may be able to infect their cells.

Also, in cases where SARS-CoV-2 has infected mink, cats, dogs and hamsters, the virus may have entered using the ACE2 receptor, or it may have entered their cells another way.

Concepts Keywords
Africa Influenza pandemic
Airborne Virology
Airway Medicine
Amino Acids Animal virology
Ape Viral diseases
Asia Henipavirus
Australia Nipah virus
Bangladesh Bat virome
Bangladeshis Coronavirus
Bat Zoonoses
Beluga Whale Medical specialties
Blood Surveillance systems
Bonobos
Brain Inflammation
Cat
Cattle
Cetaceans
Chef
Colony
Common Bottlenose Dolphin
Conspiracy Theories
Contagion
Coronavirus
Critically Endangered
Dog
Dutch
Ebola
Epidemiologist
Existential Threat
Fever
Flashback
Flying Fox
Force
Fruit
Fruit Bats
Goat
Gray Whale
Gwyneth Paltrow
Handshake
Harbour
Harbour Porpoise
Headache
Hendra Virus
Hospital
Howler
India
Infection
Influenza
Intermediate Host
Kentucky
Killer Whale
Luby
Malaysia
Measles
Mental Confusion
Mink
Minke Whale
Montana
Mortality Rate
Mumps
Mutation
Nipah Virus
Orangutan
Overs
Palm
Pandemic
Paramyxoviruses
Pig
Primate
Rabbit
Receptor
Respiratory Illness
Saliva
Sap
SARS
Sewage
Smallpox
Southeast Asia
Species
Spider
Stanford University
Surveillance
The Fear
Tree Sap
UCD
Urine
Vaccine
Village
Viral
Virals
Virologist
Virus
Viruses
Western Lowland Gorilla
Zika Virus
Zoologist

Semantics

Type Source Name
disease MESH development
drug DRUGBANK Silver
disease MESH emerging infectious disease
drug DRUGBANK Tropicamide
disease MESH Smallpox
drug DRUGBANK Ranitidine
disease MESH influenza
disease MESH infection
disease MESH mumps
pathway KEGG Measles
disease MESH measles
disease MESH brain inflammation
disease MESH confusion
drug DRUGBANK Amino acids

Original Article

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