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Sunday 19 January 2020

Nipah virus claims one more life in Kerala, toll rises to 11

Two people suspected to be infected with the brain-damaging Nipah virusare under treatment in Karnataka, a health official said on Wednesday

Kozhikode/Thiruvananthapuram: The deadly Nipah virus today claimed one more life in Kerala, with a 61-year-old man succumbing to the virus, taking the death toll to 11.

The latest victim, V Moosa, was on ventilator support for the past few days. There are totally 14 Nipha confirmed cases, of whom 11 have so far lost their lives. This is the fourth death in Moosa’s family in the last 20 days. Three people are undergoing treatment in various hospitals.

Moosa’s sons Mohammed Saliah (28), Mohammed Sadiq (26) and a relative Mariumma had died earlier.

While two of the deaths have been confirmed due to Nipah, the blood samples of one of his sons had not been tested for the virus, sources said.

Health officials had also sealed an unused well, believed to be the epicentre of the virus, in the compound of Moosa’s house after it was found to be infested with bats.

Nurse Lini Puthussery, who initially treated members of Moosa’s family at Perambra Taluk hospital in the district, had also died after being infected by the virus.

Of the 11 deaths, 8 are from Kozhikode and 3 from neighbouring Malappuram, an official communication said.

22 persons 13 from Kozhikode, 6 from Malappuram, 2 from Kottayam and one from Thiruvananthapuram are also suspected to have contracted the virus. Their blood samples have been sent for testing and results are awaited.

Ribavirin tablets, an anti-viral medicine are being distributed and officials have been asked to send the medicines to all affected areas.

Meanwhile, as a precautionary measure, Kozhikode district collector, UV Jose, has restrained the conduct of all public functions, including tuition and training classes till 31 May.

Kozhikode district medical authorities have received complaints that the staff of the Perambra taluk hospital, where Lini Puthussery, a nurse had died after she contracted the Nipah virus from some patients she had treated, were facing isolation.

Due to the virus scare, there are also reports that residents from affected areas were shifting to the houses of their relatives far away.

The outbreak of the virus has lent a blow to fruit merchants also for whom the Ramzan season would have been a money spinner.

Fruit traders said people are not buying fruits fearing that they may have been infected by fruit bats, which is suspected to be the host of the dreaded virus.

According to the Kerala Fruits and Merchants Association, there has been a 40% dip in the sales in the state due to the outbreak of the virus, while in Kozhikode district alone, where the virus first erupted, there has been a fall of 90% in sales.

The Nipah virus is a newly emerging zoonosis that causes severe disease in both animals and humans. The natural host of the virus is believed to be fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family, Pteropus genus.

Two people suspected to be infected with the brain-damaging Nipah virus are under treatment in Karnataka, a health official said on Wednesday, after an outbreak of the rare virus in neighbouring Kerala.

Symptoms of the virus were seen in a 20-year old woman and a 75-year-old man in Mangalore after they travelled to Kerala and came into contact with infected patients there, Rajesh BV, a district surveillance officer said by phone.

“They are not confirmed Nipah cases yet, so there is no need to panic … the situation is under control,” he said, adding that blood samples of the two people have been sent to Manipal Centre for Virus Research and results are awaited.

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