Health officials in Ghana have been urged to be vigilant following the detection of antibodies of a virus, known as the Nipah Virus in parts of Africa.
A Wildlife Veterinary Specialist, Dr. Richard Suu-Ire, disclosed this at a forum by the Ghana Veterinary Medical Students Association in Kumasi, said the virus is likely to cause a pandemic across the world if the necessary measures are not put in place.
Fruit bats are usually the carriers of Nipah Virus and other highly fatal zoonotic viruses including the Ebola virus. Dr. Suu-Ire believes an intensified surveillance by Ghanaian authorities will prevent any outbreak.
“5 years ago, we discovered anti-bodies of Nipah. This is a very deadly virus and actually is predicted to be the virus that it is likely cause the next pandemic. It was only occurring in South East Asia, but we have proven beyond doubt that this virus is now in Africa so our medical colleagues, have this in mind, it is not just Ebola, but it can be Nipah virus,” he said.
Nipah virus (NiV) infection is a newly emerging zoonosis that causes severe disease in both animals and humans.
The natural host of the virus are fruit bats of the Pteropodidae Family, Pteropus genus.
NiV was first identified during an outbreak of disease that took place in Kampung Sungai Nipah, Malaysia in 1998.
On this occasion, pigs were the intermediate hosts. However, in subsequent NiV outbreaks, there were no intermediate hosts.
In Bangladesh in 2004, humans became infected with NiV as a result of consuming date palm sap that had been contaminated by infected fruit bats. Human-to-human transmission has also been documented, including in a hospital setting in India.