And EcoHealth Alliance, which created the simulation, has warned that urgent action must be taken to prevent the outbreak turning into an epidemic.
Kerala has airports in Calicut, Cochin, and Trivandrum, with Coimbatore International Airport in Tamil Nadu and Mangalore Airport in Karnataka also nearby – and all five offer international flights.
Using FLIRT software developed by EcoHealth Alliance’s technology team, the global nonprofit organisation has undertaken a thorough analysis of which cities and countries should be on alert for potential influx of Nipah-infected travellers.
The UK comes in 11th, the highest-ranked place outside Asia and ahead of China, in 14th, and the United States, in 17th. The simulation considered non only direct flights, but also multi-leg journeys.
EcoHealth Alliance President Peter Daszak said: “We’re monitoring this Nipah outbreak daily.
“If the virus spreads to any of the nearby states, as some fear it already has, the odds of Nipah becoming an international problem grow substantially.
“Goa, in particular, is a very popular vacation destination for many in Europe and Russia.”
Nipah, which is known as a zoonotic disease, spreads from fruit bats to humans, most often via consumption of date palm sap which has been contaminated with a bat’s urine or saliva.
Symptoms can include respiratory difficulties and swelling of the brain.
Mortality rates are estimated to be between 40 and 75 per cent.
No treatment or vaccine for Nipah has yet been developed and the mortality rate remains high in most previous Nipah outbreaks.
However, it can only be spread through the bodily fluid, for example urine, saliva, faeces or vomit, of an infected person.
EcoHealth Alliance Director of Data Science Toph Allen said: “We developed FLIRT in 2016 as a means to predict potential spread of outbreaks.
“In an increasingly connected world, we believe it’s imperative we get in front of outbreaks before they’re given a chance to become full-blown pandemics.”
It is listed as one of the World Health Organisation’s R&D Blueprint priority diseases, referring to illnesses for which it believes there is an urgent need for accelerated research and development of treatments and vaccines.
A factsheet on the WHO’s website states: “In the absence of a vaccine, the only way to reduce or prevent infection in people is by raising awareness of the risk factors and educating people about the measures they can take to reduce exposure to the Nipah virus.
“WHO is supporting affected and at risk countries with technical guidance on how to manage outbreaks of Nipah virus and on how to prevent their occurrence.”