After Kerala, Nipah virus suspected in Himachal Pradesh

Randy Kelley
May 26, 2018

For those unversed, Nipah virus, spread by fruit bats, causes communicable disease and is fatal for both animals and humans. The symptoms include fever and headaches, followed by drowsiness and confusion, leading to possible coma and death within a week. Supportive care is the best bet for helping patients, with respiratory support provided for the period of two to three weeks, until the danger has passed.

The virus travels through direct contact with a patient.

Extending a helping hand to the family of nurse Lini Puthussery, who died after contracting Nipah from her patients, the Kerala government on Wednesday made a decision to give a government job to her husband and Rs 10 lakh each to two of their children.

Blood and body fluid samples from suspected cases in Kerala have been send to the National Institute of Virology in the western city of Pune for study, officials said. The report is expected on Friday.

MPs, MLAs, other representatives of people and leaders of various political parties would attend the meeting, Health minister K K Shylaja today said. Of the 13 confirmed cases, 11 people have died so far.

"There is no need to panic".

Eleven people have died in the outbreak, Rajeev Sadanandan, additional chief secretary for Kerala's Department of Health and Family Welfare, told CNN.

It's believed that a nurse treating the victims in Kerala has also died. Lini Puthussery, 31, whose "selfless service" is being hailed as "heroic" left a note for her husband before dying.

Lini, who was aware about the seriousness of her illness, had scribbled an emotional last letter to Sajeesh saying, "I am nearly on the way".

"I don't think I will be able to see you again".

"We hope that proper steps are taken to ensure that the fourth outbreak doesn't happen in India", he added. "Lots of love", she wrote.

In Himachal Pradesh, the discovery of more than 18 dead bats from a government school premises created panic.

Dead bats were found in a well at their home in Kozhikode district - the epicentre of the viral outbreak that has authorities on high alert.

After reviewing the cases of all the patients who have lost their lives, the Central High-level Team is of the view that the Nipah virus disease is not a major outbreak and is only a local occurrence.

A state government statement said "travelling to any part of Kerala is safe". "However, if travellers wish to be extra cautious, the may avoid the four districts". The virus also transmits from humans to humans.

There is no vaccine for the Nipah virus, carried by fruit bats and spread through contact with bodily fluids, the World Health Organization (WHO) says.

"Health staff are visiting individual households giving them specific instructions including about eating fruits from outside and other precautions", Mr U.V. Jose, the senior-most official in Kozhikode, told the AFP news agency.

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