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Monday, December 4, 2023

Kerala, India, shuts schools and banks in 7 villages due to Nipah deaths

In response to two fatalities from the rare and dangerous Nipah virus in the southern state of Kerala, authorities have shuttered select schools and offices. They’ve also designated over seven villages as containment zones.

Presently, one adult and one child remain hospitalized with infections, and over 130 individuals have undergone testing for the virus. The Nipah virus is transmitted to humans through direct contact with the bodily fluids of infected bats, pigs, or other individuals, according to an official from Kerala’s health ministry.

Authorities have declared containment zones in seven villages within the Kozhikode district, resulting in the closure of schools, banks, and other institutions.

Furthermore, three teams from the federal government, including the National Virology Institute, are scheduled to arrive in Kerala on Wednesday for additional testing. This information comes from an official who prefers not to be quoted as he lacks authorization to speak with the media.

The Nipah virus, which causes severe brain damage, was initially identified in 1999 during an outbreak that affected pig farmers and individuals in close contact with pigs in Malaysia and Singapore.

Remarkably, this marks the fourth Nipah outbreak in Kerala since 2018. The first and most devastating outbreak originated with a 26-year-old man who initially sought treatment for a fever and cough, leading to the virus spreading to family members and other patients before being identified as Nipah. Tragically, 21 of the 23 infected individuals succumbed to the illness during that outbreak. In 2019 and 2021, Nipah claimed two more lives in separate incidents.

A Reuters investigation published in May highlighted parts of Kerala as being among the global hotspots most vulnerable to bat virus outbreaks. Extensive deforestation and urbanization have brought people and wildlife into close proximity, increasing the risk of such outbreaks.

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