The Nipah virus, a rare and frequently fatal illness that struck Kerala in southern India, claimed the lives of two people. This outbreak prompted the closure of schools and hundreds of tests to stop its spread. The virus has reportedly been found in Kerala’s Kozhikode district, according to the state’s chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who advises locals to take precautions and adhere to the health department’s safety recommendations. Two people have died from the virus, he said in a statement Wednesday, the state’s fourth outbreak since 2018. “We should not be afraid, but face this situation with caution,” Vijayan wrote on social media. Let’s dive into further details about this rare yet deadly disease. Nipah is a zoonotic virus that spreads from animals to humans, according to the World Health Organisation. It can, however, spread directly between people or through contaminated food. When pig farmers in Malaysia and Singapore became ill in 1998, the Nipah virus was discovered. The virus can infect humans through direct contact with the body fluids of infected bats and pigs. There have previously been reports of human-to-human transmission. According to CNN, Nipah has been present in flying foxes for a very long time, and scientists are concerned that bats will eventually produce a highly contagious modified strain. Although supportive care is typically used as treatment for the virus, which has a 70% mortality rate, there are no vaccines for it. According to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the deadly virus’s symptoms include fever, respiratory distress, headaches, vomiting, encephalitis (a brain inflammation), and seizures, which can cause coma in severe cases. According to CNN, the virus is on the WHO’s list of pathogens with the potential to cause an epidemic. Kerala’s health minister, Veena George, reported on Wednesday that 77 people have been deemed to be at “high risk” and that over 700 people have been identified as close contacts who are being tested for the virus. The group is advised to stay home and monitor their health. Meanwhile, seven villages have been declared “containment zones,” Reuters reported.