As Nipah virus spread is suspected, government to compensate victims

Phillip Cunningham
May 28, 2018

The virus is spread by infected bats, pigs or humans.

Health Minister KK Shailaja told a news briefing at least 17 patients were now confirmed as having Nipah - which was first discovered in 1998.

The natural host of the virus is believed to be fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family, Pteropus genus.

Travel to Kerala, a popular tourist destination, was declared safe by Rajeev Sadanandan, a state health official, who said the outbreak "remains highly localised", with all cases linked to one family. Earlier this month, his two sons and another relative also died due to the virus infection. Nipah virus, or NiV, has infected 13 other people, two of whom were in critical condition in hospital on Wednesday.

After Kerala, Nipah virus suspected in Himachal Pradesh where 18 dead bats were found in the premises of a government school. "We told them to avoid physical contact in case of an outbreak, as this is a communicative disease", he added.

Nipah virus what are the symptoms and how is it spread
Getty nimal Husbandry department and Forest officials inspect a well to to catch bats in Kozhikode

A nurse who treated some of the victims died after becoming infected herself.

She also noted that the government should consider the future of Lini's children.

"We have opened a control room and we are always on the alert and we are doing everything possible to keep things under check". The government had got in touch with the National Centre for Disease Control and the Central government immediately on learning about the viral fever outbreak and this was appreciated by the Cabinet, she said.

Health officials are investigating the outbreak in Kerala, where the first death was witnessed last week, have traced it to a well overspread with bats from which the victim drew water. Biosecurity level 4 is the classification for Nipah Virus for laboratory personnel to adhere to. Many have left their homes and have proceeded to kin's residences at distant locations as the Nipah fever have already claimed 11 lives in Kozhikode and adjoining Malappuram district. In 2004, humans who consumed the date palm sap infected by fruit bats, caught the virus as well.

Nipah, which the World Health Organisation describes as a "newly emerging zoonosis that causes severe disease in both animals and humans" has killed over 260 people in India, Bangladesh and Malaysia since it was first detected in 1998. There have also been reports of human-to-human transmission in a hospital in India.


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