Kerala reports 2 suspected Nipah virus deaths in Kozhikode, state on high alert - Hindustan Times
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Kerala reports 2 suspected Nipah virus deaths in Kozhikode, state on high alert

Sep 12, 2023 10:13 AM IST

Four people, including three children, who were in contact with the first deceased on August 30 are currently under treatment. The condition of one of the children is said to be critical

The Kerala health department late on Monday issued a high alert in Kozhikode district after two people died by suspected Nipah virus infection in the span of two weeks, on August 30 and September 11.

Doctors and patients wear masks as a precautionary measure after the 'Nipah' virus outbreak in Kozhikode, Kerala in 2018. (PTI File Photo)
Doctors and patients wear masks as a precautionary measure after the 'Nipah' virus outbreak in Kozhikode, Kerala in 2018. (PTI File Photo)

The deceased, both men, were admitted to private hospitals in the district after complaining of fever, but authorities said they showed symptoms similar to a Nipah virus infection. Body fluid samples of one of them have been sent to the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune and the results are expected later today.

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Kerala health minister Veena George has rushed to Kozhikode along with district in-charge minister PA Mohammed Riyas. Both ministers will convene a high-level meeting on Tuesday to oversee the preparedness and plan further course of action if the samples test positive for the virus.

Four people, including three children, who were in contact with the first deceased on August 30 are currently under treatment. The condition of one of the children is said to be critical.

Dr AS Anoop Kumar, who played a key role in the discovery of Nipah virus infection in Kozhikode in 2018 and who has relayed the same suspicions this time to the health department, confirmed that both men who died had contact with each other at some point.

“We have to find out the index case in this outbreak. It could be the man who died on August 30 or there could be another case before that. We also have to pin down the epicentre of this outbreak, the locality where the virus emerged in a human. Earlier studies by NIV and veterinary department had confirmed that fruit bats in the Perambra area of Kozhikode carry this virus,” Dr Kumar told a local media.

Nipah virus is a zoonotic virus that is transmitted from animals to humans. Studies have confirmed that the virus is mainly transmitted to humans through fruit bats, though infections in certain places have also pointed towards pigs.

The first Nipah outbreak in Kerala was reported in 2018 in Kozhikode where 17 people died. It was again reported in 2019 and 2021, but in both cases, those infected recovered.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Vishnu Varma is Assistant Editor and reports from Kerala for the Hindustan Times. He has 10 years of experience writing for print and digital platforms and has worked at The New York Times, NDTV and The Indian Express in the past. He specialises in longform reportage at the intersections of politics, crime, social commentary and environment.

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