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The World Health Organization today (Sunday) took the first step in fighting a possible outbreak of the ‘Nipah’ virus, which causes an incurable disease that kills two-thirds of patients, and put the virus on a list of pathogens that endanger humanity.

The inclusion of the deadly virus on the list will enable funding for research and search for drugs and treatments for the serious illness caused by exposure to the virus, which originated in fruit bats and last erupted in China. According to a report in the British "Sun", the biggest concern among experts is from a variant of Nipah disease that will turn out to be more contagious to humans.

Israel Hayom quotes Dr. Jonathan Epstein, vice president of the EcoHealth Alliance, the world's largest non-governmental organization for infectious diseases, explained to Sun: "We know very little about the genetic diversity of ‘Nipah’ in bats, and what we fear is a strain that is more contagious to humans.”

"So far, the known Nipah virus only passes through close contact with the infected patient or animal or through droplets from the respiratory tract, and we rarely find a large chain of infection. Nevertheless, the danger is enormous," Epstein explains.

The virus originated in fruit bats in Southeast Asia, where growing dates and oil palms led to the destruction of the bats' natural habitat and greater contact between human and bat populations. The bats' excellent immune system allows them to be carriers of a variety of viruses without getting sick.

Mortality rates from the disease are not yet completely clear but it is estimated that they are high and stand at between 40 and 75 percent (COVID-19’s is 0.5 according to the latest published data). In addition, it only passes through human contact and does not move in the air, and according to reports in Asia it may incubate in the human body for up to 45 days before manifesting.

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