India Panics After Two Deaths, Races to Contain Fatal Virus

( – India is racing to contain a deadly virus that has hit its Kerala region that has already resulted in the deaths of two people.

Mass testing has already been instituted by local authorities to help contain the spread of the Nipah virus, which is a rare virus carried by bats that has a fatality rate of 40% to 70%. As many as 800 people have already been tested, and two individuals who have tested positive have also been confined. Lockdowns and restrictions have also already been instituted in schools and other occasions for public gatherings. This is not the first time the region has been hit with a potential epidemic – this is the fourth time since 2018 that Kerala, which is the southern region of India, has faced the threat of the Nipah virus.

Fruit bats are the usual carriers of the disease, which can spread to other organisms when they come into contact with the body fluids from these animals. For example, humans may catch the virus by eating unwashed or improperly washed fruit that has the saliva or urine of an infected bat. The same goes for animals, especially pigs. There is also some documentation that indicates that the virus can be spread from human to human.

There no cure or vaccine for the virus – only the symptoms can be treated, and patients are just made to rest and hydrate apart from receiving supportive care. Symptoms, according to the World Health Organization, include headaches, fever,  muscle pain, sore throat, and vomiting.

The Nipah virus was first documented in 1998 in Malaysia and Singapore, and resulted in the deaths of more than 100 people. More than a million pigs were also culled as part of efforts to stop the spread of the virus.

According to the WHO, outbreaks have been rare since the virus’ discovery, but Nipah has been flagged as one of the viruses that could potentially cause a global epidemic, along with Coronavirus, Zika, and Ebola.

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