Nipah death toll rises to 16, but end of outbreak might be near

Attendants wear masks as a precautionary measure against the Nipah virus as they help a patient at the Government Medical College hospital in Kozhikode, in the southern Indian state of Kerala.

(CNN)The death toll from the outbreak of Nipah virus has risen to 16 in the southern Indian state of Kerala.

More than 230 people have been tested for the virus, with 18 confirmed by state officials to have contracted it, according to Kerala's Department of Health and Family Welfare.
All 18 people were hospitalized and quarantined and the last two are currently in recovery.
    "The other two are alive and kicking. Their blood is totally clear of the Nipah virus," said Rajeev Sadanandan, additional chief secretary for the state's Department of Health and Family Welfare.
    The recovering patients are still in quarantine and are able to speak to their family over the phone. A final set of tests is being conducted to ensure there is no trace of infection.
    The state is close to declaring that the infection has been cleared, said Sadanandan.
    The first cases were reported on May 19 in a family from the district of Kozhikode, after which India's Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the World Health Organization were alerted. India's health ministry promptly deployed a response team.
    Fruit bats, which are natural hosts of Nipah virus, were found in an unused well near the family's house, along with rabbits being bred that had recently died, WHO said.
    In the first few days of the outbreak, a local nurse, Lini Puthussery, contracted the virus while taking care of these patients and passed away. The Indian government announced they would compensate her family and others that have lost relatives to the Nipah virus.
    The World Health Organization has classified the Nipah virus as a 'public health threat' and estimates the fatality rate to be between 40% and 75% depending on the outbreak. The rate for the current outbreak is higher, at almost 90%.
    State officials have prepared a contact list, extending to 2300 people, who may have come in contact with the infection through multiple degrees of association.
    "It is a very dynamic thing. We have been trying to contain this from day one. The district administration is working very hard as a team," said UV Jose, a district official in Kozikhode,