The deadly Nipah virus has returned to Bangladesh, killing at least eight people since the latest outbreak was confirmed, officials said Sunday.
Nipah induces flu-like symptoms that often lead to encephalitis and coma, with at least a 70 percent mortality rate in Bangladesh. The latest outbreak was confirmed on Friday.
"So far eight people including four children have died in the latest outbreak of the Nipah virus in (central) Manikganj and Rajbari districts," said Mahmudur Rahman, a senior health official.
"Several others are in critical condition. We told people not to be panicked. We have also increased surveillance in the affected area," he said.
At least 89 people have died of the virus since the first outbreak in 2001. The Bangladesh government has set up a detection laboratory to speed up testing for any outbreak.
In 2004, the same two districts reported the worst outbreak, when nearly 40 people died, and the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention was called in to help combat the disease.
The virus, named after the Malaysian village where it was first detected, jumped the species barrier from fruit bats to pigs and then to humans in October 1998. It is believed to be caught through direct contact with pigs.
In 1999, 256 people in Malaysia fell ill with the disease, and four in 10 patients died. More than a million pigs were slaughtered to help curb its spread.