Rare Nipah virus claims fourth family member in India

Alicia Farmer
May 26, 2018

In the wake of the recent outbreak of the deadly Nipah virus in Kerala, Animal Husbandry Commissioner of Maharashtra, Kantilal Umap, has issued instructions to carry out checks in all the pig farms in the state.

The state government issued an advisory asking travellers to avoid visiting the four districts of Kozhikode, Malappuram, Wayanad and Kannur.

Muscat: The Sultanate of Oman's Embassy in New Delhi has warned its citizens not to travel to India due to the spread of the Nipah virus, except in cases of urgent need. The Nipa virus is under control, the minister said at a press meet here today. Two other outbreaks of the virus were reported in India in 2001 and 2007, respectively, in the eastern state of West Bengal that shares its border with Bangladesh, claiming the lives of over 50 people.

Thirteen out of about 160 samples sent to a virology institute have tested positive for the virus, Kozhikode medical officer Dr Jayasree E said.

The main symptom of Nipah virus infection in humans is encephalitis, which means inflammation of the brain.

The death toll from the latest outbreak in Kerala rose to 12 on Thursday, following the death of a 61-year-old man who had already lost three members of his family, including his two sons, to the virus.

"We have directed the general medicine departments regarding the Nipah virus".

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"All steps to prevent the spread of the virus have been taken", she added, urging people not to destroy colonies of fruit bats.

The World Health Organisation said fruit bats were found in a well near their house, along with rabbits being bred that had died recently.

The outbreak of the virus infection, which is a zoonosis that causes severe disease in both animals and humans, is suspected to be from an unused well which was infested with bats and belonged to the Moosa family.

While cremation is favoured as the best method to stop further spread of infection, in case families opt for burial, the body would have to be covered in a polythene bag and then put into a deep pit.

No vaccine has been developed for the disease and there has not been much research into it.

Historically, it was first identified in Kampung Sungai Nipah in Malaysia in the year 1998. Infected people initially develop influenza-like symptoms of fever, headaches, myalgia (muscle pain), vomiting and sore throat. The primary treatment is intensive supportive care.

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