Outbreak of Deadly Brain-Damaging Virus In India: WHO

There is an outbreak of a rare, deadly brain-damaging virus in India, the World Health Organization says.

At least 18 people have been infected in the outbreak of Nipah virus in the state of Kerala, and 17 of those patients have died, The New York Times reported.

The virus naturally occurs in fruit bats across South and Southeast Asia, and can spread to humans through contact with the bats' bodily fluids. There is no vaccine and no cure.

The virus is considered a possible epidemic threat and is listed by the WHO as a high priority for research, The Times reported.

Despite the danger posed by the virus, little is being done to find ways to fight it, experts warn.

"There's a market failure for protecting people from this," Dr. Steve Luby, an epidemiologist at Stanford University, told The Times. "It's not like treating baldness or breast cancer, where wealthy people will pay for your product. There's no big customer here, no incentive, until it escalates."

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