Yasmina Kattou / Photo credit: Magali Cohen / Hans Lucas / Hans Lucas via AFP 09:57, October 04, 2023

Like Covid-19, new viruses potentially dangerous to humans appear regularly, there is also one that worries the Institut Pasteur at the moment: the NIPAH virus. It has been raging for several years in Asia, particularly in India and causes high fevers and respiratory problems.

Vigilance on NIPAH. This virus, which is currently raging in India, is under the radar of the Institut Pasteur, which monitors the risk of a global epidemic. It causes high fever, breathing problems or even inflammation of the brain. India is currently experiencing its fourth epidemic in five years. More serious: there is no vaccine, no treatment against this virus which, once contracted, kills in 40 to 75% of cases.

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"We have meetings every fortnight"

"We must monitor this virus like milk on fire," warns Jean-Claude Manuguerra, head of the Institut Pasteur's emergency biological intervention unit. "It's a virus that comes from bats like many viruses. Once it has been transmitted to humans, we have human-to-human transmission that is more or less effective. And so once in humans, the epidemic can continue," he explains.

The institute is therefore organizing itself in case a global epidemic begins. "We have meetings every fortnight. We are thinking about the types of vaccines that will be necessary, that we could develop, "adds the scientist. The NIPAH virus is now listed by the WHO as a pathogen as dangerous as Ebola or Covid-19.