The southern Indian state of Kerala has issued an alert after it confirmed that two people have died from the rare Nipah virus.
One of the deaths occurred earlier this month while the other took place on 30 August, both in the state’s Kozhikode district, officials said.
Two relatives of a victim have also tested positive for the virus and are being treated in hospital.
The is the fourth Nipah outbreak in Kerala since 2018.
The Nipah virus infection is a “zoonotic illness” transmitted from animals like pigs and fruit bats to humans, according to the World Health Organization.
It can also be transmitted through contaminated food and through contact with an infected person.
People who contract the virus sometimes show no noticeable symptoms, while others show signs of acute respiratory problems. In severe cases, a Nipah infection can result in foetal encephalitis – a serious condition that affects the brain.
The mortality rate among those who contract the virus is high as there is no medicine or vaccine available to treat the infection. Treatment is limited to managing symptoms and supportive care.
India’s Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Tuesday said the federal government had dispatched a team to experts to Kerala to assess the situation and assist the state government in managing the outbreak.