Nipah virus outbreak shuts down public life in Indian state of Kerala

New Delhi, Sept 15, (dpa/GNA) – A Nipah virus outbreak that has claimed at least two lives in the south-western Indian state of Kerala, led the authorities to close schools and offices on Friday.

Four other cases have so far been confirmed. Several hundred people with whom they have been in contact have been tested for the virus, with the results unknown as yet.

Health authorities were actively looking for cases, Kerala Health Minister Veena George told local broadcaster NDTV.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, called on the population to avoid public gatherings in the district of Kozhikode, where the outbreak occurred. There was a major previous outbreak in the district in 2018, in which 21 people died.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the virus can be transmitted to people by fruit bats and pigs. It can also be caught from contaminated food or from contact with infected people.

Infections may show no symptoms or may lead to acute shortness of breath and to brain inflammation. Between 40% and 75% of those falling ill succumb to the virus, for which there is no vaccination or treatment beyond supportive care.