NEW DELHI: A deadly virus carried by fruit bats has killed at least five people in southern India and more than 90 people are in quarantine, a top health official said Tuesday.
Other deaths are suspected to have been caused by Nipah virus and authorities have ordered emergency measures to control the outbreak.
“We can confirm that five people have died from the Nipah virus,” Kerala state health surveillance officer K.J. Reena told AFP.
Media reports said 10 people had died but officials told AFP final tests had not been completed on other suspicious deaths.
Nine people have been admitted to hospital with symptoms resembling the virus, which the World Health Organization says is fatal in 70 percent of cases, Reena added.
One of the nine has tested positive for Nipah.
“We also traced 94 people who had come in contact with the ones who died and they have been quarantined as a precaution,” Reena added.
There is no vaccination for Nipah, which has killed more than 260 people in Malaysia, Bangladesh and India in outbreaks since 1998.
The WHO has named Nipah as one of the eight priority diseases that could cause an epidemic, alongside Ebola and Zika.
The virus induces flu-like symptoms that lead to an agonising encephalitis and coma.
Three members of the same family are among the fatalities. Dead bats were found in a well of the family’s house in Kozhikode district, previously known as Calicut.—AFP