Nipah virus: Kerala Health Department looks into foreign researchers

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Two people suspected to be infected with the brain-damaging Nipah virus are under treatment in India's Karnataka state, a health official said on Wednesday (May 23), after an outbreak of the rare virus in neighbouring Kerala state killed 10.

Also called as NiV, the Nipah virus infection is spread mainly by fruit bats and can affect both humans as well as domestic animals including dogs, cats, goats, horses, and sheep.

Transmission of Nipah virus takes place through direct contact with infected bats or from other NiV-infected people. The health ministries at the Centre and in the state have asked people not to panic and see a doctor if they notice any of the symptoms.

Animal Husbandry department and Forest officials deposit a bat into a container after catching it inside a well at Changaroth in Kozhikode in the Indian state of Kerala on May 21, 2018.

The world's second most populous country suffers hundreds of deaths from infectious diseases every year because of weak disease surveillance and infection control systems, leading health experts to worry about the risks of such outbreaks.

The patients are being treated and samples of their blood have been sent for screening, with results expected by Thursday, he added. So the virus can move from bats to other hosts through fruit or tree sap contaminated with bat saliva or excreta.

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Kozhikode, May 28 Educational institutions in Malappuram and Kozhikode, including professional colleges, will reopen on June 5 after summer vacation in the wake of the outbreak of Nipah virus in these districts.

"One of the key triggers is human encroachment into breeding areas of bats", says Dr Mahesh Kumar, Consultant Internal Medicine, Narayana Hospital.

Outbreaks of Nipah occur annually in Bangladesh and 105 people died from the virus in Malaysia 1999, when more than a million pigs were slaughtered to stem its spread.

Is there a vaccine to prevent this disease? . The primary treatment is supportive care.

Health officials said since the incubation period of the deadly virus is between four to 18 days they will continue to monitor all those who had possibly came in contact with some of the deceased.

Symptoms of the infection, which was first identified in 1999, include headaches, fever, respiratory illness and drowsiness. That time, the first infected were pigs that got the virus from fruit bats before transmitting it to pig farmers.

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