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Indian health workers in protective clothing

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Following the emergence of the Nipah virus and two related deaths, India has restricted public life in the affected regions. Among other things, the authorities banned public gatherings on Thursday and closed numerous schools in the state of Kerala in the south of the country. In addition to the two deaths, three other people have tested positive for the virus.

More than 700 people are reportedly under observation because they were in contact with infected people. Among them are more than 150 health care workers.

The Nipah virus can be transmitted from person to person or from animal to person. Infection leads to flu-like symptoms, excruciating encephalitis, and coma. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Nipah virus is a pathogen that could cause a global epidemic. There is no vaccine or drug, and the mortality rate is 40 to 75 percent, according to the WHO.

The Nipah virus was first discovered in 1998 during an epidemic among pig farmers in Malaysia and Singapore. At that time, more than 100 people died and almost 300 were infected. According to the WHO, more than 600 cases of infection have been reported to date.

Scientists suspect that Nipah has been present in fruit bats for thousands of years.