Deaths of three people in Perambra in Kozhikode district of Kerala have been confirmed as a result of Nipah virus, a source close to health minister KK Shylaja confirmed on Sunday. While the health minister will travel to Perembra, a central team will be arriving in the state to monitor the situation.
Two other people, who were said to have been in contact with the deceased, are believed to be in a serious condition.
The district health department in Kozhikode is maintaining vigilance in the wake of the death of three people in the last fortnight. The deceased include two brothers, in their 20s, and their paternal aunt who lived in Changaroth gram panchayat in Perambra.
Four people, who were allegedly in contact with the deceased, are undergoing treatment at private hospitals in Kozhikode. The blood samples of the deceased have been sent to a medical college in Manipal to identify the specific viral strain and a report is awaited.
Earlier in the day, Lok Sabha MP and former union minister Mullappally Ramachandran sought the central government’s intervention to contain the outbreak of what he termed was a ‘rare and deadly’ virus in some parts of Kozhikode district. In a letter to union health minister J P Nadda, Ramachandran said some panchayats, including Kuttiyadi and Perambra, in his Lok Sabha constituency of Vatakara were in the grip of the “deadly virus.”
He said some doctors have termed it as Nipah virus, while others said it was zoonotic, and that the spread is fast and fatal. “The mortality rate is reportedly 70 per cent. The spread of the disease needs to be contained,” he said in the letter.
A source close to TP Ramakrishnan, the district-in-charge minister, confirmed that a medical camp is in progress in Changaroth panchayat to assist those who may be reporting symptoms such as fever, cough, and cold. He said the minister has held a round of talks with district health officials and is coordinating with the state health department in ensuring the situation is under control.
A newly emerging zoonosis, Nipah virus (NiV) infection causes severe disease in both animals and humans. The natural host of the virus are fruit bats of the Pteropodidae Family, Pteropus genus. According to WHO, there is no vaccine for either humans or animals. The primary treatment for human cases is intensive supportive care.