Authorities Issue National Alert After People Die From Virus Outbreak In India

In this photograph taken on September 12, 2023, health workers wearing protective gear shift the body of a person who died of a Nipah virus infection at a private hospital in Kozikode, in India's Kerala state. India has curbed public gatherings and shut some schools in the southern state of Kerala after two people died of Nipah, a virus from bats or pigs that causes deadly fever, officials said on September 14. (Photo by AFP via Getty Images)

Kay Smythe News and Commentary Writer
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Two people have died in India of the Nipah virus as of Friday, according to multiple reports, forcing authorities to ramp up efforts to mitigate a larger outbreak.

At least four additional people have tested positive and are receiving treatment for the virus, which is currently plaguing the state of Kerala, according to Reuters. This is the fourth outbreak of Nipah since 2018.

Nipah is a zoonotic virus, so can spread between humans and animals with ease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It was first identified in 1998 after pig farmers in Malaysia and Singapore fell ill after direct contact with bodily fluids of infected animals, Reuters noted.

Most cases stem from infected bats and flying foxes, with scientists now fearing the virus may have mutated into a far more transmissible strain. Symptoms include fever, headache, sore throats and general sickness, but can get a lot worse. Upwards of 70% who contract Nipah die from seizures, coma and encephalitis (brain swelling). (RELATED: ‘It’s Just A Matter Of Time’: Scientists Issue Warning As Deadly, Ebola-Like Virus Spreads)

Some of those infected don’t show symptoms until months or even years after exposure to the virus, making it one of the most insidious known to man. There are no vaccinations against Nipah, nor are there known cures. Doctors can only treat symptoms in patients. During one previous outbreak in Bangladesh, dozens of infected people died.