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India imposes curbs after two die of Nipah virus

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India has curbed public gatherings and shut some schools in the southern state of Kerala after two people died of Nipah, an infection caused by a virus from bats or pigs that can result in deadly fever, officials said on Thursday.

Nipah virus infection has a fatality rate ranging from 40 per cent to 75 per cent, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). There is no vaccine against the virus.

Symptoms include high fever, vomiting and a respiratory infection, but severe cases can involve seizures and encephalitis – an inflammation of the brain – and result in a coma.

Three other people in India have tested positive for the virus. And more than 700 people, including 153 health workers, who came in contact with those infected are under observation, health officials said.

At least four people have been hospitalised, including the nine-year-old child of one of the people who died.

Initially transmitted from animals such as fruit bats and pigs, Nipah is also spread from person to person, the WHO said.

The incubation period – the time from infection to the onset of symptoms – ranges from around four to 14 days, but has been reported to be as long as 45 days, according to the WHO.

In 2018, at least 17 people died after being infected by the virus in Kerala.

The virus was first identified in 1998 after it spread among pig farmers in Malaysia. In India, the first Nipah outbreak was reported in the state of West Bengal in 2001.

The WHO lists Nipah as one of its priority diseases that pose “the greatest public health risk due to their epidemic potential” and where there are “no or insufficient countermeasures”


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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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