Two more people have died in the outbreak of Nipah virus in the southern Indian state of Kerala, taking the total number of deaths due to the brain-damaging disease to 15, officials said on Thursday.

Kerala Health Department official KJ Reena said two new cases of Nipah were detected in the state, which brings the total number of confirmed cases to 17.

“A 28-year-old and a 55-year-old man, who were undergoing treatment at hospitals in the Kozhikode district died on Wednesday,’’ Reena said.

Federal Health Ministry officials have said the outbreak is “localised’’ to the state’s two districts of Kozhikode and Malappuram and no confirmed cases have been found outside Kerala.

Indian states have been on alert fearing the spread of the disease.

A soldier died on Monday in the eastern metropolis of Kolkata of suspected Nipah virus.

He had returned from a holiday in Kerala.

According to the World Health Organisation, the source of the virus has not been determined as yet, meanwhile, fruit bats have been found to be a natural host of the virus.

There is no vaccine for the Nipah virus, which the WHO says is a highly infectious disease that can cause the inflammation of the brain.

Symptoms of Nipah, named after the Malaysian village where it was first discovered, include high fever, headaches, convulsions and respiratory issues.

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