Systemic risks: Nipah virus strikes India

India has recorded two deaths due to the Nipah virus in the state of Kerala, an official from the National Institute of Virology said.

The brain-damaging Nipah virus, which is transmitted to humans through direct contact with infected bats, pigs or other people, was first identified in 1999 during an outbreak of illness affecting pig farmers and others in close contact with pigs in Malaysia and Singapore.

One person died this month while another death occurred on 30 Aug, according to official reports.

Two more people from the same family were also suspected to have been infected and their samples have been sent for testing, the official said, adding that the virology institute sent the report to the federal health ministry.

A 2018 Nipah outbreak in Kerala killed 17 people and it has resurfaced a few times in the same state, including in 2021. There are no treatments or vaccines against the virus.

Mass testing will begin in the area where the latest cases were found and quarantine measures have been put in place, the official from the virology institute said.