The deadly Nipah virus which has claimed at least 12 lives in Kerala is fast-spreading. While the Kerala government has made all the necessary arrangements to prevent panic and sanctioned emergency fund of Rs 20 lakh to Kozhikode Medical College, the Centre on Monday sent a team from National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to assist local authorities.  Neighbouring state, Tamil Nadu, has also sounded alert for bordering districts of Kerala intensifying monitoring of fever cases in Kanyakumari, Coimbatore, Nilgiris, and Tirunelveli. The state health department alerted the deputy directors of public health and collectors of the bordering districts to ensure that there is no epidemic outbreak in Tamil Nadu.

In a series of tweets on Monday evening, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s office said the “government is closely monitoring the spread of the Nipah virus. Health department is doing everything possible to save the lives of the infected & prevent the advance of virus”.

CM Vijayan further assured that the state’s health minister and labour minister were camped at the affected district of Kozhikode to lead the relief efforts. Private hospitals had also been instructed to not deny treatment to anyone suffering from fever, Vijayan said.

The virus, which was first reported from Malaysia in 2004, has claimed more than 250 lives worldwide. The virus is understood to have a mortality rate of 70%. Here are a few things to know about the virus, its symptoms, outbreak in Kerala and precautions:

According to World Health Organisation, Nipah virus is a newly emerging zoonosis that causes severe disease in both animals and humans”. The natural host of the virus, according to WHO, are fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family, Pteropus genus (fruit-eating species).

How does it spread and what are the symptoms:

The transmission of the Nipah virus takes place through the following means:

Direct contact with infected bats

Direct contact with infected pigs

Direct contact with other NiV-infected people

In Malaysia where the disease was first spotted, symptoms ranged from asymptomatic to fever, headache, drowsiness, disorientation, mental confusion, coma, and death. Nipah is said to be capable of causing disease in pigs and other domestic animals. There is no vaccine for either humans or animals. The primary treatment for human cases is intensive supportive care. Treatment is focused on managing fever and neurological symptoms and offering full support.

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