Indian state closes villages over Nipah virus, two deaths reported

In previous outbreaks, the virus was likely caused by the droppings of infected fruit bats.

NOS News

The Nipah virus emerged in the southern Indian state of Kerala. To curb the outbreak, at least seven villages in the affected district have been placed under lockdown. Schools, offices and public transport are also closed. This is the fourth outbreak of the deadly virus in the region since 2018.

The virus has now claimed two lives in Kerala. The first victim died on August 30. According to the authorities, it was a man who grew bananas and nuts, reports the Reuters news agency.

The man's minor daughter and brother-in-law were also infected with the virus and are hospitalized, local authorities report. Other family members and neighbors are currently being tested for Nipah infections.

The second death came into contact with the virus at the hospital, but was not linked to the infected family. We don't know when he died. Medical personnel should be quarantined as a precaution after contact with an infected person.

High mortality rate

In previous outbreaks, an estimated 40 to 75 percent of people infected with the Nipah virus died, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports. There is no treatment or vaccine for the disease. According to India's health minister, the current outbreak is the “Bangladesh variant”, which has a high mortality rate. However, this variant has been shown to be less contagious in the past.

The Nipah virus is transmitted from animals to humans. It can also be spread through contaminated food and contact with an infected person.

Fruit Bats

The virus was first discovered in 1999 among pig farmers in Malaysia. Since then, no outbreaks have been reported in the Southeast Asian country. In Bangladesh, the virus has reappeared every year since 2001, according to the WHO.

In previous outbreaks in Bangladesh and India, people are believed to have become infected by eating fruit or fruit products contaminated with the urine or saliva of infected fruit bats.

This spring, a Reuters study found that the region's rapid urbanization and deforestation created ideal conditions for viruses like Nipah. These developments mean that humans and animals are living closer together, increasing the risk of infections.

The rapid growth of the Indian population plays a major role in this regard. Since this year, India has become the most populous country in the world.