Nipah virus: The 101 on the infection claiming lives in South India

Nipah virus: The 101 on the infection claiming lives in South India

Nipah virus: The 101 on the infection claiming lives in South India

At least 10 people have died of Nipah since an outbreak began earlier this month in Kerala, health officials say, and two more people are in critical condition.

India said it has contained the highly contagious Nipah virus that has killed some 10 people in its southern state of Kerala.

Lini, a nurse who was taking care of Nipah virus affected patients in Kerala, affected with the disease and died of the infection. "It made an effort to create awareness and allay any fears in the minds of the people about the disease", the health ministry said in a statement.

Two other patients were in isolation in neighbouring Karnataka after developing symptoms similar to brain-damaging Nipah virus upon returning from Kerala.

The death toll from the latest outbreak in Kerala rose to 12 on Thursday, following the death of a 61-year-old man who had already lost three members of his family, including his two sons, to the virus.

While the cause of the outbreak is still being investigated, a team of health experts who visited the family's house have linked it to dead bats found in the home's water well.

According to local officials, these bats come every year and they die as well, but this year their numbers were comparatively high. "All steps to prevent the spread of the virus have been taken", she added, urging people not to destroy colonies of fruit bats. Infected pigs, bats and humans are the vehicles for the spreading of the deadly infection.

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The natural host of the virus are fruit bats.

Today the death toll of the virus - which has no vaccine - rose to 11, with nearly 100 people being treated as potential cases.

"This is a new situation for us; we have no prior experience in dealing with the Nipah virus", said K.K. Shailaja, health minister of the state, according to Reuters.

Nipah was first identified in 1998 after pig farmers were infected in the village of Kampung Sungai Nipah, in Malaysia.

When the virus infects human beings, it could range from merely being asymptomatic to also developing acute respiratory syndrome to fatal encephalitis. "We have also contacted Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to see if the cases from Kerala can help develop a vaccine and a drug", said health secretary Rajeev Sadanandan.

There is now no vaccine for the disease. The only treatment available is to provide Intensive Support Care to patients.

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