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Nipah Virus Disease in India (Kerala)

21 May 2018

On 21 May 2018, health officials reported via media Link that 9 people have died of Nipah virus disease in Kerala. Three of these cases have been confirmed in the laboratory and a further 25 people have been hospitalised with symptoms of Nipah virus infection. Nipah virus is associated with pigs and fruit bats. Some of the recent cases are said to have handled mangoes that been chewed by bats.

Infection with Nipah virus is rare but is extremely dangerous, causing encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). The incubation period is 5 – 14 days and initially causes headache and fever which progress to drowsiness and confusion. Respiratory symptoms may also occur. Coma may follow within 2 days and death may result.

Prevention in Travellers

There is no vaccine against Nipah virus and only supportive treatment is available.Travellers intending to live or work in basic conditions or who may be involved in intensive pig farming in Bangladesh, India or Malaysia, particularly in outbreak areas, should be aware of the risk.

Avoidance of close contact with fruit bats or exposure to food/drink potentially contaminated by fruit bats.