Kerala: Eleven People Dead Due To Outbreak Of Nipah Virus, Centre Monitoring Situation
May 21st, 2018
Representational Image: Livemint
Panic spreads in Kerala after over 11 deaths were reported in the state due to the outbreak of Nipah virus. The most recent death was that of a nurse who first treated patients at the onset of the outbreak at Perambra Taluk Hospital. Perambra is a taluk, 40 kms from Kozhikode, the epicentre of the outbreak.
Seven of the victims of Nipah virus (NiV) are from Kozhikode and four other people, showing similar symptoms have died in Malappuram. On Sunday, Union Minister J P Nadda asked the Director of Director of National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to visit Kozhikode in the wake of the reported deaths.
“Reviewed the situation of deaths related to Nipah virus in Kerala with Secretary Health. I have directed Director NCDC to visit the district and initiate required steps as warranted by the protocol for the disease in consultation with state government,” Mr Nadda said in a tweet.
Reviewed the situation of deaths related to nipah virus in Kerala with Secreatry Health. I have directed Director NCDC to visit the district and initiate required steps as warranted by the protocol for the disease in consultation with state government.
— Jagat Prakash Nadda (@JPNadda) May 20, 2018
What is Nipah virus?
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), Nipah virus was first detected in 1998 in Malaysia. The natural host of this virus is fruit bats. During the outbreak in Malaysia, the hosts were pigs. In 2004, humans got infected with the virus in Bangladesh after consuming date palm sap that had been contaminated by infected fruit bats.
The symptoms of Nipah virus are similar to that of encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). The illness presents with 3-14 days of fever and headache, followed by drowsiness, disorientation and mental confusion. Doctors say the airborne transmission of the virus is not possible hence, those who come in contact with an infected person will catch the virus.
Outbreak in Kerala
The first deaths that were reported due to the virus were three members of a family from Kozhikode. Now, at least 10 people are undergoing treatment across various hospitals across Kozhikode. The 50-year-old woman died in a private hospital on Saturday due to the disease. Her two male relatives died on May 5 and May 18.
A district-level special task force, headed by Kozhikode district collector, UV Jose has been formed to investigate the deaths due to this rare virus, official sources said, reported NDTV.
The Director of Health service in Kerala, Dr RL Sarita, took the decision to form the task force after the meeting with top health department officials. “A single window system has been put in place to monitor emergency treatment to meet any eventuality,” they said.
Medical camps are being conducted in Changaroth panchayat on Sunday, where the initial deaths occurred. They are treating and monitoring people who are showing signs of fever.
Kozhikode district medical officer Jayasree V told The Indian Express, “We got the report from the National Institute of Virology, Pune on Sunday night, confirming Nipah virus infection in the blood samples of the three persons who had died initially. Now, four more persons who were allegedly in contact with the deceased have died at the Medical College.”
“Through secretions, the virus could spread from one person to another. It is a serious situation but there’s no need to panic. All those persons who were reportedly in contact with the infected are being closely monitored. We have asked the medical personnel to use all safety gear such as gloves and masks while dealing with potentially infected persons. The collector has already ordered the area around the home of the family with the initial deaths to be cordoned off.”