As India emerges as hotspot for potential new viruses, experts battle red tape to head off another pandemic

Scientists say it is just a matter of time before one of these zoonotic diseases sparks another full-blown pandemic, and proactive surveillance is vital, writes Vishwam Sankaran

Friday 08 October 2021 15:27
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<p>Health officials in full protective gear in an isolation ward in the Indian state of Kerala after a 23-year-old was infected by the potentially deadly Nipah virus</p>

Health officials in full protective gear in an isolation ward in the Indian state of Kerala after a 23-year-old was infected by the potentially deadly Nipah virus

In the late 1950s, people in the southern Indian town of Shimoga started reporting the mysterious deaths of dozens of monkeys in the evergreen forests of the district.

Soon people in the villages surrounding the forest also began reporting high fever, vomiting, diarrhea, body pain, headache, and blood in the stool. There were a few deaths, too, prompting officials to initiate a surveillance project, suspecting that this deadly disease was coming from birds.

Scientists from India’s then newly established Virus Research Centre started studying birds and ticks in the area to try to identify what was causing the haemorrhagic fever.

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