The National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has put neighbouring states on alert following the outbreak of the Nipah virus in Kerala.

Karnataka, Maharashtra and Goa have been asked to take appropriate measures. “We are currently preparing a national advisory for Nipah virus for all states and Union territories. Currently we are focusing on neighbouring states," said Sunil Gupta, additional director, microbiology, NCDC.

According to the Union health ministry, 13 confirmed cases were reported in Kerala, while out of the 16 suspected cases, 15 were admitted in Government Medical College, Kozhikode, and one was admitted in Manjeri Medical College in Malappuram. At least 11 people lost their lives to the virus, the health ministry said.

Symptoms of the virus were also seen in two people from Karnataka’s Mangaluru, after they visited Kerala and had reportedly come in contact with infected patients. However, there was no official confirmation on the development.

“Currently, the cases are limited to Kerala only. There is no confirmation of spread of the disease to other states. We urge the public not to panic as the situation is under control," said Gupta.

The Kerala government on Wednesday asked tourists to avoid visiting Kozhikode, Malappuram, Wayanad and Kannur. The Karnataka government, too, directed visitors to avoid eight districts bordering Kerala, including Chamarajnagar, Mysuru, Kodagu, Dakshina Kannada, Uttara Kannada, Udupi, Shivamogga and Chikkamagaluru. Goa is also on high alert.

The Nipah virus is a zoonotic infectious disease that spreads from fruit bats to humans. It can be transmitted to humans from animals (bats, pigs), and can also be transmitted directly from human-to-human.

“It carries high mortality ranging from 75 to 100%. It affects the brain and causes depressed sensorial, fever and respiratory depression. People who consume pork are at high risk. Treatment is supportive as there are no vaccines or antiviral medications," said Prem Nair, medical director, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, Kochi.

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