Nipah Virus deaths: toll rises to 9, central team arrives in Kerala

Nipah Virus deaths: toll rises to 9, central team arrives in Kerala

Nipah virus (NiV), spreads from bats, cause multiple clinical presentations, from asymptomatic infection to the acute respiratory syndrome and fatal encephalitis.

Fears over a possible Nipah Virus (NiV) outbreak gripped parts of Kerala's northern districts on Monday with the number of deaths from confirmed and suspected infection in Kozhikode and Malappuram districts reaching nine.

The state health department confirmed that three of the deaths, in Kozhikode, were caused by the virus, which affects both humans and animals.

The deaths of two siblings and their paternal grandmother between May 5 and 18, all residents of Changaroth in Perambra in Kozhikode, had initially set off reports of a possible infection.

Early on Monday, a nursing assistant, identified as Lini, employed at a taluk hospital in Perambra, where the infected were treated, was reported dead.

Four suspected virus-infected deaths were reported in the neighbouring Malappuram district on Sunday. Fluid samples collected from four of the deceased were sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune. NiV infection was confirmed in three.

Eight people are undergoing treatment in Kozhikode district, where an isolation ward is open at the Government Medical College Hospital.

Health Minister K K Shailaja reiterated that there was no cause for panic in other parts of the state since direct contact with the infected was the only mode of human-to-human transmission of the virus.

The World Health Organisation lists NiV as a "newly emerging zoonosis" with fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family as the virus' natural hosts.

"The presence of bats near the house is confirmed. A well in the compound which had the bats has been covered," the minister told reporters after a review meeting on Monday.

She said "exaggerated" figures of deaths, compiled with figures of deaths caused by other forms of fever, were also being circulated.

A team from the National Centre for Disease Control is in Kozhikode, as directed by Union Health Minister J P Nadda, to monitor the situation.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that though the NiV infection was reported only in Kozhikode, the health department had been directed to be on alert across the state.