Nipah virus infection claims 10 lives in Kerala

Fruit-eating bats are the primary host of the Nipah virus, which can cause disease in both animals and human beings; so far, there is no vaccine against the virus, which was first identified in 1998 in Kampung Sungai Nipah, Malaysia

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Kozhikode: The Nipah virus has so far claimed 10 lives in Kozhikode and Malappuram districts in north Kerala while the condition of two persons undergoing treatment for the viral disease is said to be critical, State Health Minister KK Shylaja said on Tuesday. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has been informed about the outbreak of the virus in Kerala, she said.

Two persons — Rajan and Ashokan — who were undergoing treatment at Kozhikode, died this morning. They have been confirmed to have contracted the virus, the minister said. A nursing assistant, Lini, who died yesterday had contracted the virus, too, she added.

Of the 18 samples sent for testing, 12 have tested positive for the virus, of which 10 people have died.

Two deaths were reported on 20 May from Malappuram. Sindhu and Sijitha have tested positive for Nipah virus.

The two had come to Kozhikode Medical College Hospital for treatment and had been in touch with one of the infected persons who had died of the virus, the minister said.

No fresh case has been reported so far, she said adding the WHO has been informed.

Shyalaja said Union Health Minister JP Nadda, who is in Geneva, had called her and enquired about the situation in the State and has promised all help from the central government.

An expert team from the National Centre for Disease -Control, including its director, Dr Sujeet Kumar Singh and Head of Epidemiology, Dr SK Jain, are already in Kerala.

A high-level team from AIIMS has also reached the State, the Kerala health minister said.

Nursing assistant Lini died yesterday after contracting the Nipah virus

The officer said there was no need to screen the tourists arriving from Kerala. “Screening of the tourists or visitors can happen only when there are specific guidelines issued by the Centre. Right now, there are no such guidelines,” he said.

In the wake of Nipah virus claiming 10 lives in Kerala, the Goa government said there was nothing to worry about in the State, but measures were still being taken to prevent its possible spread.

“As of now there is no alert issued for Goa by any agency, including the National Centre for Disease Control, whose team is in Kerala assessing the ground-level situation,” Dr Utkarsh Betodkar, State Surveillance Officer of Directorate of Health Services, said.

The doctor said there was no need to panic as it has not affected the entire State of Kerala, but only a specific area of Kozhikode.

According to Betodkar, the Goa government was not taking any chances and has already contacted Manipal Centre for Virus Research (MCVR) to assess the situation.

Fruit-eating bats are the primary host of the Nipah virus, which can cause disease in both animals and human beings. So far, there is no vaccine against the virus, which was first identified in 1998 in Kampung Sungai Nipah, Malaysia.