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Indian state battered by COVID now on alert for Nipah virus

NEW DELHI (AP) — The southern Indian state of Kerala is ramping up efforts to stop a potential outbreak of the deadly Nipah virus, even as the state continues to battle the highest number of coronavirus cases in the country.

Kerala is on alert after a 12-year-old boy died of the rare virus on Sunday, spurring officials to start contact-tracing and isolating hundreds of people who came into contact with the victim.

First identified during a 1990s outbreak in Malaysia, Nipah can be spread by fruit bats, pigs and through human-to-human contact.

According to the Associated Press, the virus, for which there is no vaccine, can cause fever, convulsions and vomiting.

The AP reported that the current and only treatment to control complications is supportive care and keeping the patient comfortable.

The virus has an estimated fatality rate of between 40% and 75%, according to the WHO.

On Tuesday, the state health minister said samples of eight primary contacts of the victim have come back negative.

The last time the state dealt with the virus was in 2018, when more than a dozen people died, the AP reported.

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