Nipah virus (NiV) infection is a disease associated with encephalitis, also known as inflammation of the brain. The virus was first discovered in domestic pigs. The disease first broke out in Malaysia in 1998 and Singapore in 1999. It also affected domestic animals like dogs, cats, sheep and goats. Nipah virus can be transmitted to humans by coming in close contact with these animals.
Nipah virus has now hit Kerala. In the wake of deaths of several people in Kerala in the past fortnight due to ‘Nipah’ virus, the state health department has been put on high alert. The virus can cause symptoms like respiratory illness during the early part of the infection and may even lead to coma within 24-48 hours. In a tweet, Union Health Minister Jagat Prakash Nadda today said, “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.”
Here are the latest developments in Nipah virus infection in India:
• The Nipah virus has so far claimed 11 lives in Kerala, including three members of a family and eight others who showed similar symptoms in Kozhikode and Malappuram.
• One person is undergoing treatment, while eight others are kept under observation in Kozhikode district.
• According to updates from the Office of Chief Minister of Kerala, CM Pinarayi Vijayan has informed that the Government is closely monitoring the spread of the Nipah virus. Health department is doing everything possible to save the lives of the infected people and prevent the advance of the virus, CMO informed.
• National Institute of Virology has confirmed from the studies on blood samples that three out of the four deaths attributed to fever was caused by the virus. The first death was reported on 19th of May. The Union Health Ministry and World Health organization were contacted on the same day itself, as per CMO’s Tweet.
• Health minister Shylaja and Labour minister, T P Ramakrishnan have camped in the district to lead the efforts and held discussions with officials.
• Private hospitals have been instructed to not deny treatment to anyone suffering from fever. An expert medical team of the Union government has arrived on the request of the State Government.
• A statewide alert has been given to remain vigilant, although the virus has been reported only in Kozhikode. A 24-hour control room has been opened to monitor the situation.
• CM has requested all to follow the instructions of the health department to tackle this crisis.
• It is being suspected that the virus is being spread by bats. The health minister was quoted as saying that the government has prepared the list of the persons who have got in touch with the patients. They have been isolated as precautionary measure, she added.
• As per WHO website, as of now, there is no vaccine for either humans or animals. The primary treatment for human cases is intensive supportive care.