The state of Kerala is on high alert after the outbreak of Nipah virus. The deadly virus has claimed so far 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. Two persons, Rajan and Ashokan, who were undergoing treatment at Kozhikode, died Tuesday morning, have been confirmed to have contracted the virus. A nursing assistant, Lini, who died yesterday had also contracted the virus. Of the 18 samples sent for testing, 12 have tested positive for the virus, of which 10 people have died. Two deaths reported on May 20 from Malappuram– Sindhu and Sijitha, have tested positive for Nipah virus.
What is Nipah virus:
Nipah virus (NiV) infection is a disease that broke out in Malaysia and Singapore in 1998 and 1999. It was first seen in domestic pigs. The virus can also affect other domestic animals like, dogs, cats, sheep and goats, and can even be transmitted to humans by coming in close contact with these animals. The organism which causes Nipah Virus encephalitis is an RNA or Ribonucleic acid virus of the family Paramyxoviridae, genus Henipavirus, and is closely related to Hendra virus. Reports say that the virus is spread by fruit bats, which can be traced in forests but due to urbanisation, they are found even in cities, towns etc. Nipah virus was first identified in Malaysia in 1998. Around 600 cases of Nipah virus was discovered between 1998 to 2015. The first identification of Nipah virus as a cause of an outbreak of encephalitis was reported in 2001 in Meherpur district of Bangladesh. In India, the first two cases were reported in West Bengal in 2001 and 2007.
What are the symptoms of Nipah virus:
The symptoms associated with Nipha virus are- encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), respiratory illness, 3-14 days of persistent fever and headache, drowsiness, disorientation. Many even show severe neurological signs like convulsions and pulmonary signs. These signs and symptoms can lead to coma within 24-48 hours.
Nipah virus precautions & treatment:
Precautions are mandatory for hospital workers in charge of taking care of the infected patients, that includes submitting and handling laboratory samples. Slaughterhouses should also take major precaution.
What is the take of Kerala govt on Nipha virus:
Health Minister KK Shyalaja said Union Health Minister, J P 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 (NCDC), including its director, Dr Sujeet Kumar Singh and Head of Epidemiology, Dr S K Jain, are already in Kerala. A high-level team from AIIMS has also reached the state. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has been informed about the outbreak of the virus in Kerala. The Kerala Health department has cancelled the leave of all doctors and health staff until further orders. It also asked all District Medical Officers (DMOs) to keep a close watch on the affected people.
What is the Centre saying on Nipha virus:
In a tweet earlier, Union Health Minister Jagat Prakash Nadda said that “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.”