Kerala Health Minister Vina George said 251 people, including 129 health workers, were found to have been in contact with a baby who died of the Nipah virus last Sunday, All India Radio broadcast.
The source added that 11 people on the contact list showed symptoms of infection, but their condition is stable.
The Kerala Health Department has drawn up a plan to control the disease and a laboratory has been installed by the National Institute of Virology in Pune at Kozhikode Medical Hospital, as well as studies to trace the source of the infection.
The Nipah virus was discovered in 1999 after an outbreak of disease among pigs and humans in Malaysia and Singapore, which killed more than 100 citizens and infected 300, while causing a huge economic impact, as more than one million pigs were slaughtered.
Although there are no other outbreaks in Malaysia and Singapore, they occur almost annually in some parts of Asia, particularly India and Bangladesh.
Symptoms include fever, headache, throat pain, cough, vomiting and shortness of breath, the most serious of which are confusion, drowsiness, disorientation, seizures, coma, and swelling of the brain (encephalitis).
A person can become infected by direct contact with infected animals such as bats or pigs, or body fluids such as blood, urine or saliva, and by eating contaminated food.
Nipah virus also spreads through close contact with infected people through nasal or respiratory droplets, urine, and blood.
Precautionary measures to avoid infection include washing hands with soap and water and avoiding consumption of raw palm sap and contaminated fruits.
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