Kerala put on high alert after presence of Nipah virus confirmed

While the presence of Nipah virus has been confirmed in the blood and body fluid samples of two persons who died due to viral fever in the past fortnight, two more are suspected to have died in similar circumstances in Kozhikode district of Kerala.

The National Virology Institute, Pune, stated that the fever has spread and also killed people in Malappuram districts over the last fortnight. With six more people succumbing to symptoms suspected to be that of the Nipah virus on Sunday, the current toll is nine.

Three persons from a family had died due to virus encephalitis and myocarditis in the past two weeks. Nine others, including some of their family members, and those who had interacted with them, are under treatment at government and private hospitals.

Fever clinics and special wards will be set up in private and government hospitals and a seven-member task force has been formed to monitor the overall activities. This was decided at a meeting chaired by the Collector at the civil station here on Sunday.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Nipah virus infection is a newly-emerging zoonosis, a disease that can be transmitted from animals to humans. In humans, NiV infection is linked to encephalitis, characterised by fever, headache, drowsiness, disorientation, mental confusion, coma, and potentially death. A person infected with Nipah virus could end up in a coma within 24-48 hours.

There is no vaccine at the moment for either humans or animals. The primary treatment for human cases is intensive supportive care, the WHO says on its website.

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