There have been at least ten deaths so far in an outbreak of Nipah virus in Kerala, in southern India. A statewide alert has been issued and a 24-hour control room opened.

The natural host of the virus is believed to be fruit bats. The BBC reports that ‘health officials said they had found mangoes bitten by bats in a home where three people died of the suspected infection.’ Once in the human population, the disease can be spread by coughing, sneezing and other bodily fluids. There is no vaccine and the mortality rate is around 70%. Pigs are another virus host and previous outbreaks were linked to sick pigs, leading to large culls of the animals.

Three of those who have died in the Kozikhode district of Kerala were related – two brothers and their aunt. The father of the two men is currently on life support. A nurse caring for the three relatives has also died.

Symptoms + Transmissions

Advice

At present, there is not much official advice for travellers. Our advice is not exhaustive and we urge you to read up on the outbreak and make choices accordingly.

  • Avoid eating fruit that you do not know the origin of. Be sure that fruit bats have not eaten or chewed any fruit  you eat.
  • Avoid fruit bats and pigs.
  • Only drink safe drinking water – either water you have boiled for several minutes and cooled, or bottled water from a sealed container. Make an effort to avoid drinking/swallowing/using water from unknown sources.
  • Do not drink or consume data palm sap.
  • If you present any of the symptoms, seek medical assistance immediately.
  • Monitor the local media.

Sources

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