Video Producer/Editor: Garima Sadhwani
A 24-year-old healthcare worker in a private hospital tested positive for Nipah virus on 13 September, making him the fifth confirmed case for the infection in Kerala's Kozhikode district, said the State Health Minister Veena George. He is currently undergoing treatment, she added.
An outbreak of Nipah virus in Kozhikode district was declared earlier this week after two deceased persons — a 44-year-old man who died on 30 August, and a 40-year-old who died on 11 September — tested positive for Nipah virus.
What are the symptoms of Nipah virus? How can one protect themselves? FIT answers your FAQs.
But first, here's a quick rundown of the latest developments.
Currently, there are three recorded active cases of Nipah virus in Kerala, including the 24-year-old healthcare worker.
77 people who have come in contact with the infected patients have been identified as 'high-risk contacts' and are being observed, said the Health Minister.
Tests run at the National Institute of Virology, Pune, confirmed that the 40-year-old man, who died on 11 September, was positive for Nipah virus.
The 44-year-old, who died on 30 August, was initially thought to have died of liver cirrhosis. However, he was in contact with the other deceased for an hour in the hospital, and the 40-year-old is thought to have contracted the infection from him, said Kerala Health Minister Veena George in press briefing on 12 September.
Two others related to him, including a 9-year-old child, and a 25-year-old man, also tested positive and are currently undergoing treatment.
The man who died on 30 August is thought to be the index case (the first to be infected).
The Health Department has identified two epicenters of outbreak in the district and announced a list of containment zones within a 5 km radius.
Restrictions on events and gatherings have been put in place in the district. Schools are to remain shut on 14 and 15 September.
16 committees have been formed, and 75 rooms have been prepared at Kozhikode Medical College, said the Health Minister.
What is Nipah virus?
Nipah virus or NiV infection is a zoonotic virus, which is found in both animals and humans, but primarily spreads from animals to humans. Research showed that the disease first spread when humans came in contact with the pig feces.
It is found in pigs, fruit bats, horses, sheep, goat, and even cats and dogs.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of Nipah virus generally show up 4 to 14 days after infection.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), these include,
Acute respiratory infection (ranges from mild, severe)
It can also progress fast, causing encephalitis (swelling in the brain) in serious cases, which can lead to seizures or even a coma.
Because the symptoms are so nondescript, infection can only be confirmed with an RT-PCR test.
How does it spread?
Nipah virus is a communicable disease which means it spreads through direct contact with infected animals and people, or food contaminated with their bodily fluids.
In Kerala, fruit bats, particularly those found in and around Kozhikode are thought to be the suspected source of the infection.
How dangerous is it?
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Nipah has a fatality rate between 40 to 75 percent. This means, nearly half of the cases are likely to end up in death.
How is it treated?
Currently, there is no specific treatment or vaccine for the Nipah virus. Treatment includes symptom management, hydration, and rest.
How do I protect myself from getting infected?
First and foremost, maintaining personal hygiene
Wash your hands regularly.
Cover nose and mouth with a mask if you have any symptoms, or are around those with flu-like symptoms.
Avoid eating raw fruits, fruits found on the ground, or plucked from trees in areas where bats are found.
Avoid visiting the endemic area until the disease is curtailed.
Avoid contact with the blood or body fluids of any person known to be infected with NiV.