The southern Indian state of Kerala is in the midst of a double jeopardy - one from rising COVID-19 cases, and another, from the resurgence of the deadly Nipah virus.

On Sept 3, a 12-year-old boy became the index case after he was hospitalised in Kozhikode with Nipah symptoms. When he died two days later, the authorities embarked on a hunt to identify and isolate hundreds of people who had come into close contact with the deceased.

Fortunately, most of the screened contacts so far have tested negative.

It is worth noting that 17 people died from a Nipah outbreak in Kerala in 2018.

The virus was first identified during an outbreak at several pig farms across Malaysia in the late 1990s. The virus can be spread through bats and pigs and can be zoonotically passed from animals to humans. It causes raging fevers, convulsions and vomiting, among other symptoms.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the virus has a fatality rate of between 40 per cent and 75 per cent, which makes it far deadlier than the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19. There is no cure, or vaccine for Nipah.

The timing could not have come at a worst time for Kerala, which is already contributing the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country.

Last week, the state accounted to 68.59 per cent of India's COVID-19 cases, reports said.

India remains the second worst hit country by the pandemic, with more than 33 million infections, and over 442,000 deaths. The United States tops the list with more than 41.5 million infections and over 674,000 deaths.

The global coronavirus infection and death tally has surpassed 224 million, and 4.62 million, respectively.

Photo source: AP via NPR