Kerala, a southern state in India, has closed schools and offices in certain areas after confirming five cases of the rare Nipah virus.
So far, two individuals have passed away, and three others, including a child, are being treated in the hospital.
Authorities reported on Wednesday that they have tested 706 individuals, including 153 healthcare workers, to monitor the spread of the virus. They are awaiting results.
This marks the fourth Nipah outbreak in Kerala since 2018.
Kerala Faces Nipah Virus Outbreak; Precautionary Measures Intensified
All cases have been reported in the Kozhikode district in northern Kerala. One of the deaths occurred earlier this month, while the other took place on August 30th.
The state’s chief, Pinarayi Vijayan, has asked the public to avoid gatherings in Kozhikode for the next 10 days.
He stated that his government is taking the deaths “very seriously” and urged people to wear face masks and visit hospitals only in emergencies.
However, he emphasized that there’s no reason to panic as those who had contact with the deceased are undergoing treatment.
The Nipah virus is a “zoonotic disease” transmitted from animals like pigs and fruit bats to humans, according to the World Health Organization.
The virus can also spread through contaminated food and direct contact with an infected individual.
The mortality rate among those contracting the virus is high since there are no medications or vaccines available for treatment. Care is limited to symptom management and supportive measures.
India’s Health Minister, Mansukh Mandaviya, informed that the federal government dispatched a team of experts to Kerala to assess the situation and assist the state government.
The state’s Health Minister, Veena George, mentioned that tests showed the virus strain in the current outbreak is the same as the one found in Bangladesh earlier.
The state government has set up a control room in Kozhikode to monitor the situation, and healthcare workers have been instructed to follow infection control protocols.
Kozhikode reported its first – and most severe – Nipah outbreak in 2018 when 17 out of the 18 confirmed cases passed away.
Experts indicate that due to habitat loss, animals are living closer to humans, facilitating the virus’s transmission from animals to people.
With information from BBC