Kerala reports 4 cases of Nipah virus, 2 deaths. What we know so far
Mass testing will begin in the area where the latest cases of the Nipah virus were found and some quarantine measures have been put in place.
Kerala has recorded four cases of Nipah virus, of which two recently succumbed to the infection, state health minister Veena George on Tuesday. The minister confirmed that the recent “unnatural deaths” in Kozhikode district were caused by the deadly brain-damaging Nipah virus.
The samples sent for testing to the National Institute of Virology in Pune were of one of the deceased and four of his kin. The minister said that three of the five samples have tested positive – one of the deceased and two other people who are undergoing treatment, including a nine-year-old boy.
"The person who died on August 30 suffered from liver sclerosis. He had some comorbidities. His death was seen as a result of complications from his comorbidities. But when his relatives and primary contacts showed unnatural fever and other symptoms, that's when we began surveillance," said George.
An official from the virology institute said that one person infected with the Nipah virus died this month while the other death occurred on August 30, reported Reuters.
This is the fourth Nipah outbreak in Kerala since 2018. Twenty one of the 23 infected people died when Kerala first reported the Nipah outbreak in 2018. In 2019 and 2021, Nipah claimed two more lives.
The virus is transmitted to humans through direct contact with the bodily fluids of infected bats, pigs or other people. It was first identified in 1999 during an outbreak of illness affecting pig farmers and others in close contact with pigs in Malaysia and Singapore.
There are no treatments or vaccines against the virus.
Confirming that the Nipah virus was behind the two deaths in Kozhikode, Union health minister said a central team of experts has been sent to Kerala to take stock of the situation and assist the state government in the management of the infection.
"I have spoken to the health minister of Kerala, there have been reports of this virus several times this season. Cases are coming up, this virus is spread by bats. A guideline has been prepared by the health ministry regarding this so that we can take precautions," Mandaviya said.
Earlier in the day, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said in a video message that the state government is viewing the two deaths very seriously. The chief minister advised people to exercise caution and said there was no reason to worry as those who were in close contact with the deceased were under treatment.
"There is nothing to worry about. Those who were in contact with the deceased are being traced and treated. Being careful is the key to tackling the situation. Everyone is requested to cooperate with the action plan prepared by the health department," he said.