The rare Nipah virus has killed at least 10 people out of 12 confirmed cases in Kerala. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan assured assistance to the victims’ kin and added that the government was handling the issue with ‘utmost seriousness.’ “All efforts are also being made to ensure that more lives are not lost,” he said. Health Minister KK Shailaja, meanwhile, on Tuesday told reporters that no new cases have been reported in the last 24 hours and that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has been informed about the outbreak. The Centre has also rushed a rapid response team to contain the outbreak.
The Nipah virus outbreak has triggered panic not only in Kerala but has also attracted global attention.
Henk Bekedam, WHO’s representative to India, said the agency is monitoring the outbreak. “Both the central and the state health authorities have been quick in responding to the situation and have promptly deployed teams and experts to the village to further assess the situation. WHO is in close contact with the teams of experts deployed to the affected areas. We await the assessment reports of the teams to clarify the situation and guide further action,” he said.
Gulf News reported that Kerala “is in a state of panic after many cases of the killer Nipah virus were detected.” The report also has a mention of nurse Lini Puthussery who succumbed to the virus and the letter to her husband Sajeesh that has been widely shared on social media.
In a report, the BBC also called it a ‘deadly virus’ which is on ‘top of the list’ of 10 priority diseases that the WHO has identified as potentials for the next major outbreak. Calling Lini “India’s hero nurse”, BBC added, “Her death is being hailed on social media as a sacrifice.” Aljazeera and The Independent have also reported about the deaths in Kerala.
The Nipah virus outbreak has left the “medical crews scrambling to manage the spread of the deadly disease — and to minimize panic,” The Washington Post’s report stated. The New York Times also mentions Lini and her letter.
Also called as NiV, the Nipah virus infection is spread mainly by fruit bats and can affect both humans as well as domestic animals including dogs, cats, goats, horses, and sheep. The infection presents as an encephalitic syndrome marked by fever, headache, drowsiness, disorientation, mental confusion, coma, and potentially death. There is no vaccine for the disease and the patient can also slip into the coma within 48 hours.