Rare Nipah virus claims fourth family member in India

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But this is not the first outbreak of Nipah virus in India.

The first fatal cases in Kerala were reported on Saturday from a family in Kozhikode, as two brothers in their late 20s and their 50-year-old aunt died from the virus.

Prior this, Kerala Governor P. Sathasivam had appealed to the people of the state not to panic over the rumors being circulated about the spread of the virus and urged everyone to follow the advisories issued by the health department.

Since these bats feed on any fruit they can find, there's a risk of exports of many fruits getting affected.

The Health Department said on Thursday that a total of 160 samples were sent for testing to Pune.

Although state health officials in Kerala - a popular travel destination for Gulf tourists - have declared the state safe, they have cautioned travellers against visiting the districts of Kozhikode, Malappura, Waynad and Kannur.

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"We have sent their samples for investigation and have sensitized the administration teachers and students about Nipah virus", Chief Medical Officer of Sirmaur district, Dr Sanjay Sharma, told ANI.

Dead bats were found in a well at their home in Kozhikode district - the epicentre of the viral outbreak that has authorities on high alert. The reason for one death has not yet been ascertained, Jayasree said. "We told them to avoid physical contact in case of an outbreak, as this is a communicative disease", he added. Nipah is a emerging zoonotic diseases that affects humans and animals.

Medical personnel wearing protective suits check patients at the Medical College hospital in Kozhikode, Kerala state, India, May 21, 2018 amid a deadly outbreak of the Nipah virus, carried mainly by fruit bats.

Transmission of Nipah virus takes place through direct contact with infected bats, pigs or other Nipah-infected persons. As a result of this, the patients with cold and fever are being treated with precaution. The virus also transmits from humans to humans. Treatment for the virus, which has a mortality rate of about 70 percent, is supportive care.

While cremation is favoured as the best method to stop further spread of infection, in case families opt for burial, the body would have to be covered in a polythene bag and then put into a deep pit.

The World Health Organization issued a report on Friday warning against an outbreak of the Nipah Virus, NiV, which is transmitted from sick animals, especially fruit bats and pigs, to both humans and animals.