Nipah virus claims 10 lives in Kerala, state on high alert

RSTV Bureau

Nipah virus

10 people have been confirmed dead due to Nipah virus while the deaths of two others, who are suspected to have contracted it, has not been confirmed to be due to the virus, health department sources said. Union Health Minister JP Nadda has reviewed the situation arising out of the outbreak of Nipah virus in Kerala.

Nadda also spoke with Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja and assured all possible help to the state government.

In a tweet, Mr Nadda said, a team headed by Director National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) reached the spot and another one consisting of doctors from AIIMS and RML will be landing today.

In wake of the deadly virus, Kerala Health Department has been put on High alert. Director of Health services Dr RL Sarita told the media that a single window system has been put in place to monitor emergency treatment to meet any eventuality.

Tamil Nadu government has also stepped up fever surveillance, including in border districts. State Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan said that Coimbatore, Nilgiris and Kanyakumari districts have been asked to be extra-careful.

Considering the seriousness of the situation, a high-level team from the National Centre for Disease-Control (NCDC), including its director, Dr Sujeet Kumar Singh and Head of Epidemiology, Dr S K Jain arrived in Kerala on Monday.

The team visited Changarothu amd Perambra from where the virus was first reported and took stock of the situation. The team members, however, said there was no need for people to panic.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that the government was handling the issue with ‘utmost seriousness.’ He said the health department was taking all steps to ensure that the virus does not spread.

Representational Image

Representational Image

Instructions have been issued to private hospitals not to deny treatment to those reaching hospitals with fever, the Kerala Chief Minister said.

Nipah virus (NiV) infection is a newly emerging zoonosis that causes severe disease in both animals and humans. The natural host of the virus are fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family, Pteropus genus. Dead bats were found from the well of the house belonging to the family which had lost 3 of its members to the virus.

According to the WHO website, NiV was first identified during an outbreak of disease in Kampung Sungai Nipah, Malaysia, in 1998, when pigs were the intermediate hosts. However, in subsequent NiV outbreaks, there were no intermediate hosts.

In Bangladesh in 2004, humans became infected with NiV as a result of consuming date palm sap that had been contaminated by infected fruit bats.

Human-to-human transmission has also been documented, including in a hospital setting in India. NiV infection in humans has a range of clinical presentations, from asymptomatic infection to acute respiratory syndrome and fatal encephalitis.

NiV is also capable of causing disease in pigs and other domestic animals. There is no vaccine for either humans or animals. The primary treatment for human cases is intensive supportive care, according to WHO.

(With inputs from PTI)