Panic grips Kerala as deadly Nipah virus suspected to have killed 12 | india news | Hindustan Times
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Panic grips Kerala as deadly Nipah virus suspected to have killed 12

The three confirmed deaths from Nipah virus infection are all from the same family in Kozhikode district’s Changaroth village, Kerala health minister KK Shailaja said.

india Updated: May 22, 2018 14:22 IST
Ramesh Babu
Ramesh Babu
Hindustan Times, Kozhikode
Family members of the patients admitted at the Kozhikode Medical College wear safety masks after the 'Nipah' virus outbreak, in Kozhikode.
Family members of the patients admitted at the Kozhikode Medical College wear safety masks after the 'Nipah' virus outbreak, in Kozhikode.(PTI Photo)

A deadly and contagious virus is suspected to have killed 12 people in Kozhikode in north Kerala, leading to hundreds of people with symptoms of fever into rushing to hospitals in panic, and forcing the central government to send a team of experts to monitor and control the spread of infection.

The Pune-based National Institute of Virology on Sunday confirmed three deaths, and a fourth illness from the same family, as caused by the Nipah virus. The surviving member of the family is critical and on ventilator support.

Humans get infected by consuming fruit- or date-palm sap contaminated by infected bats but while human-to-human transmission through body fluids is rare, it was recorded in Siliguri district in West Bengal in 2001 and is being suspected in Kerala. Four deaths were reported on Monday, including of a nurse who treated the three initial infections at the EMS Cooperative Hospital in Perambra . At least six persons are in critical condition and another 20 are under observation, state health officials said.

The death of the nurse triggered panic among hospital staff who have had their leaves cancelled to treat the sick. Three more nurses from the EMS Co-operative Hospital in Perambra are under observation at Kozhikode Medical College Hospital after they developed fever and headache, but whether they are suffering from Nipah is yet unconfirmed. All three had looked after the sick from the Moosa family, who have since then been identified as the first human cases of the virus in the state.

Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan has asked people not to panic as the situation is under control.

He has sought the help of private hospitals to tide over the crisis following reports that some private hospitals refused to admit people with Nipah-like symptoms and agreed only after the state government offered to pay the medical bills.

Of the 12 suspected deaths, six are from Kozhikode and the others from Malappuram. All the dead exhibited symptoms of fever, severe headache, and respiratory illness, and blood and fluid samples have been sent to NIV, Pune for confirmatory diagnosis. The results are expected by Tuesday, state health secretary Rajeev Sadanandan said.

The three confirmed deaths from Nipah virus infection are all from the same family in Kozhikode district’s Changaroth village, Kerala health minister KK Shailaja said.

There is no vaccine for Nipah, which has a mortality rate of 70% in India.

“Health officials have found a large number of bats in the family’s well and we suspect these bats are primarily responsible for the virus,” said Shailaja. The well has been sealed and authorities are checking other wells in the neighbourhood.

At least 30 families in neighbourhood of the Moosa home have been evacuated while 150 persons from Cheruvanoor and Perambra villages moved out on their own. Culling of bats is on to check the spread of virus, which was identified in Malaysia’s Kampung Sungai Nipah in 1998.

A team from the National Centre for Disease Control in Delhi reached Kozhikode and has set up control rooms in all government and private hospitals in the district to monitor the spread of the infection.