The mortality rate is reportedly 70 percent.
Thiruvananthapuram: Panic has struck all across the state following the death of 16 people including a nurse, who has died reportedly due to the rare and deadly virus called “Nipah”.
Rajeev Sadanandan, Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Health & Family Welfare, confirmed to the media that the virus was verified in tests conducted at the Pune institute on the samples of those firstly deceased due to the virus.
Lini, 31, a nurse attached with the Perambra Taluk Hospital in Kozhikode, died on Sunday night. She attended to one of the patients who were infected with the virus. Her body was not released to her relatives and the cremation was conducted by the health department Sunday night itself in a bid to prevent the spread of the virus, as per a recent media report.
Earlier, three members of a family in Changaroth panchayat in Perambra in Kozhikode were died to be due to the Nipah virus (NiV). Two more deaths, due to fever, were reported from Kozhikode on Sunday. Ten more people were undergoing treatment at various hospitals in the district.
Four people succumbed to fever in Malappuram but it is yet to be ascertained if they had contracted the virus.
Rajeev Sadanandan, Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Health & Family Welfare, told TOI that the virus was confirmed in tests conducted at the Pune institute on samples of the three deceased from a family at Changaroth panchayat. “We will now treat all persons presenting similar symptoms as potential Nipah-infected cases as part of disease surveillance,” he stated.
He informed the media, “A central team of the Indian Council of Medical Research is arriving at Kozhikode on Monday. There is no reason for any panic at all, as this can be managed and we have already started our work towards that. There was a similar issue in Bangladesh and it has been managed well. We have already informed the Centre about this.”
Onmanorama reports that the team will be headed by Dr Sujeet Singh, director, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). The members of the team are Dr S K Jain, chief, department of epidemiology, NCDC; Dr P Raveendran, director, department of EMR; Dr Naveen Gupta, director, department of Zoonosis, a respiratory physician, neuro-physician and an expert from animal husbandry department.
The Director of Health service in Kerala, Dr RL Sarita, took the decision to form the task force after the meeting with top health department officials. “A single window system has been put in place to monitor emergency treatment to meet any eventuality,” they said.
In a letter to Union Health Minister JP Nadda, a copy of which was made available to the media in Kochi, he said that some panchayats, including Kuttiyadi and Perambra, in his Lok Sabha constituency of Vatakara were in the grip of the “deadly virus.” He stated that some doctors have termed it as the “Nipah virus”, while others said it was zoonotic and it spread fast and was fatal. “The mortality rate is reportedly 70 percent. The spread of the disease needs to be contained immediately,” he added.
What is Nipah Virus?
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. Here are a few facts about the virus
- The natural host of this virus is believed to be fruit bats of the Pteropus species, four of which have been demonstrated to have serologic evidence of infection with this virus. The virus has also been isolated from fetal tissue and uterine fluids of these bats.
- Nipah and Hendra viruses are two related zoonotic pathogens that have emerged in the Asia-Pacific region. Both are RNA viruses that belong to the Paramyxoviridae family.
- The viruses jump the species barrier and infect a secondary animal host (eg, pigs or horses), and transmit infections to humans. In addition, the Nipah virus may be able to spread from human to human.
- Nipah virus primarily causes an encephalitic syndrome with a high mortality rate. The characteristic MRI abnormalities are multiple, small (less than 5 mm), asymmetric focal lesions in the subcortical and deep white matter without surrounding edema.
- The incubation period ranges from 7 to 40 days. The initial presentation is non-specific, characterized by the sudden onset of fever, headache, myalgia, nausea and vomiting. Meningismus is seen in approximately one-third of patients although marked nuchal rigidity and photophobia are uncommon. Patients infected with Hendra virus have presented with fever and influenza-like illnesses, or with meningoencephalitis.
- The diagnosis of Nipah virus can be established using an Enzyme-Linked Immunoassay (ELISA). Supportive care is the mainstay of treatment and infected patients may require intensive care monitoring.