The authorities in southern India are working to contain a possible epidemic ofthe deadly Nipah Virus after a boy died from the rare virus last week, according to reports.
The 12-year-old boy was admitted to a hospital from Kozhikode, a town in the Indian state of Kerala, with symptoms of fever and brain inflammation, according to NPR . He was diagnosed with the Nipah virus and died on September 5.
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Sept. 5, 2021: People in uniform workers prepare to cremate the body of a 12-year-old boy who died from the Nipah virus in Kozhikode, Kerala state, India. (AP Photo / Shijith. K)
After the death, authorities rushed to identify and isolate those who had come into close contact with the boy. As of September 6, authorities had identified 188 contacts, 20 of whom were considered close contacts and were either quarantined or monitored in a hospital, according to CBS News . On September 7, eight of the close contacts tested negative for the virus.
However, at least two health workers who came into contact with the boy started showing symptoms ofel viral infection and were hospitalized while awaiting test results to confirm infection, CBS News reported . Authorities also cordoned off an area within two miles of the boy's home to investigate the outbreak.
The Nipah virus is naturally present in fruit bats of the genus Pteropus, however it can jump to other animals, including humans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) . The virus can cause swelling in the brain called encephalitis, and symptoms can include fever and headache, followed by drowsiness, disorientation, and confusion. People infected with the virus can fall into a coma within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms.mptomes, according to the CDC.
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September 7, 2021: Health workers collect blood samples from neighborhood goats for testing after a 12-year-old boy died from Nipah virus in Kozhikode, Kerala state, in India. (AP Photo / Shijith. K)
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The virus is highly fatal, with a death rate of up to 75%, according to the target World Health Organization . This is much higher than the death rate for COVID-19, which has been estimated to be around 2% overall, using data on cases and deaths since the start of the pandemic. But the Nipah virus is much less contagious than the coronavirus that causes the pandemic. COVID-19; for example, the delta variant of the coronavirus is estimated to have a base reproduction number , or R0 (pronounced R null), of about 7, which means that each infected person transmits the virus to seven others perringers on average, according to NPR . In contrast, the R0 for the Nipah virus is estimated to be around 0.5, according to the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security .
The Nipah virus was first discovered in 1999, when 'It sparked an outbreak in Malaysia and Singapore linked to pig farms that has killed more than 100 people, according to the CDC. Since then, the virus has mainly caused epidemics in Bangladesh and India.
Kerala already experienced an outbreak of the Nipah virus in 2018, which killed more than a dozen people, according to NPR . The current outbreak comes as Kerala also faces a high rate of COVID-19 cases - in recent weeks, the state has reported the highest number of new COVID-19 cases per day among allStates of India, NPR reported.
Originally posted on Live Science.