What You Should Know About the Nipah Virus Outbreak


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Ten people in the South Indian state of Kerala have died after being infected by the Nipah virus, an emerging disease thought to be spread by fruit bats and other animals. Here’s what you should know about the outbreak.

What is the Nipah virus?
The Nipah virus is a highly contagious and deadly virus that was first identified in 1999 when pig farmers in Malaysia and Singapore became very sick. During that outbreak, nearly 300 people were infected, and more than 100 people died. To stop the outbreak, authorities had to euthanize over one million pigs. Since then, the virus has been identified in outbreaks in Bangladesh and India. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that outbreaks of Nipah virus now occur in Bangladesh almost every year, and there have been several outbreaks in India prior to the current one. The death rate from the Nipah virus is estimated to be about 75%.

The virus is spread to humans who have direct contact with animals that are infected, like fruit bats or pigs. It can also spread between people, often between family and caregivers of people who are infected.

What is happening in the current outbreak?
The outbreak is taking place in Kerala, a southern state in India. So far, 10 deaths have been reported, and there are currently at least nine other people who have tested positive for the virus and are quarantined. Multiple people who came into contact with the sick individuals are also under surveillance. Experts speculate that the ongoing outbreak was initially spread by bats.