At least 11 people have died in the southern Indian state of Kerala after they contracted a rare virus carried by bats, sparking concerns the deadly outbreak could spread.
Amid the outbreak of Nipah virus in the state, the Kerala government has asked travellers to avoid visiting four northern districts of the state - Kozhikode, Malappuram, Wayanad and Kannur. Nipah virus, or NiV, has infected 13 other people, two of whom were in critical condition in hospital on Wednesday.
Dahiya said the officials have been directed to get people showing symptoms of the viral infection quarantined without delay. What exactly is Nipah virus and where does it come from?
The dreaded Nipah virus has literally wiped out a family from Perambra in Kozhikode district of Kerala by claiming the life of the fourth member on Thursday.
While the cause of the outbreak is still being investigated, a team of health experts who visited the family's house have linked it to dead bats found in the home's water well.
Infectious disease outbreaks can be a challenge in India, the world's second most populous country, where infection control and surveillance systems are weak, leading to hundreds of deaths annually from diseases such as mosquito-borne dengue.
Nipah can be spread by fruit bats, pigs and through human-to-human contact. Fruit bats are the natural host of the virus belonging to Pteropodidae family.
Officials set a net over a well to catch bats in Kozhhikode district of Kerala which is the epicentre of the outbreak
The DMO further said confirmation is awaited with regard to one more death in Kozhikode.
"Clinical features may vary from asymptomatic illness to a very severe form of brain fever (encephalitis ) with respiratory distress and heart failure in the form of myocarditis". "It was a highly localised infection and we have been able to contain it well", Health Secretary Preeti Sudan said.
"One of the key triggers is human encroachment into breeding areas of bats", says Dr Mahesh Kumar, Consultant Internal Medicine, Narayana Hospital.
Nipa Virus aka NiV was first identified in Malaysia in 1988.
There is now no vaccine for the disease. There is no vaccine for either humans or animals, with primary treatment for human cases being intensive supportive care.