Nipah Virus: Outbreaks in Karnataka, Symptoms & precautions

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Indian health officials were checking on Wednesday if a rare, brain-damaging virus had spread to a second state after two suspected cases reported in southern Karnataka, as the death toll in adjacent Kerala, where the outbreak began, rose to 11.

While officials of the Health department, Animal Husbandry Department and the Forest Department arrived at Burma Papadi School and have taken samples from the dead bats for investigation, they have assured the people that there is no danger of Nipah virus spreading in the area. The nurse succumbed to Nipah virus infection on Tuesday morning at Taluk Hospital in Perambra. Amidst the news of the Nipah virus outbreak in Kerala this news has triggered panic among the locals.

The Bihar government issued Nipah virus alert on Saturday, asking people to take precautions, an official said.

The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) said on Thursday that Profectus BioSciences and Emergent BioSolutions would receive up to $25 million to advance development and manufacturing of a shot for the bat-borne disease.

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The villagers also fear a repeat of the five dengue fever deaths that were reported in the area a year ago. "And we want to make sure that it stays contained here", said R.L. Sarita, the director of health services in Kerala. "Experts consider that given (these diseases') potential to cause a public health emergency and the absence of efficacious drugs and/or vaccines, there is an urgent need for accelerated research and development", it says on the WHO website.

Fear of the disease has swept Kerala, even as officials insist the situation is under control. According to the ministry, of the 12 deaths so far due to the virus, nine people died in Kozhikode district and three in Mallappuram. The outbreak of the disease was first reported in Kampung Sungai Nipah, Malaysia in 1998.

"All steps to prevent the spread of the virus have been taken", she added, urging people not to destroy colonies of fruit bats. Human-to-human transmission has also been documented, including in a hospital setting in India, the World Health Organization says.

There is now no vaccine for the disease. In Bangladesh in 2004, humans were infected with Nipah virus after consuming date palm sap that had been contaminated by infected fruit bats. The main treatment for those infected is "intensive supportive care", according to the United Nations health body.

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