Kerala’s Health Minister KK Shailaja on Saturday asked people not to panic after three members of a family died of a mysterious viral infection near the Perambra town in Kozhikode district in the last two weeks. The state government has sent the samples of infected patients to the National Institute of Virology in Pune.

The government is doing everything to control the situation, Shailaja said after meetings with virology experts from leading hospitals, The New Indian Express reported. She said the virus was yet to be identified. “As per preliminary assumption, this is a viral infection spread through birds, and affects the human brain,” she said.

On Sunday, a team of experts will camp in the area where the disease was reported, Shailaja said. Residents in the area have been asked not to consume fruits half-eaten by birds. The Health Department has urged people not to get carried away by rumours that the fever was caused by the Nipah virus, The Hindu reported.

Two brothers in their mid-twenties died of the disease on May 5 and May 18, followed by their aunt on May 19. The wife of one of the brothers, and their father are in hospital. A nurse at a hospital in Perambra and a relative who participated in the funeral are also undergoing treatment.

Initial symptoms had indicated viral encephalitis with myocarditis, but doctors have not confirmed this yet.