Three nurses who were treating patients for the Nipah virus at EMS Memorial Cooperative Hospital at Perambra have taken ill and been admitted to Kozhikode Medical College, The News Minute reported.
State Health Minister KK Shylaja confirmed the deaths of six people in Kozhikode because of the 'Nipah' virus.
As many as 20 people have been admitted to Kozhikode Medical College on suspicion of being infected with the virus. Ten of them are believed to be in critical condition, The News Minute reported.
The deaths and heightened infection rate has put the Kerala state health department on high alert.
State Health Minister KK Shylaja on Sunday, 20 May, said, “Today, we got the confirmation report from National Institute of Virology, Pune. We had sent four samples to the institute and three of them tested positive for Nipah virus.”
Samples from three deceased patients were collected and sent to the virology lab at the Kasturba Medical College, Manipal, and the National Virology Institute in Pune. The results confirmed the presence of Nipah virus in the samples, according to The News Minute.
Valachuketti Moosa, who was unwell, has now been diagnosed with the virus, The News Minute added. Moosa’s sons Mohammed Sadik and Mohammed Salih aged 26 and 28, died on 18 May and 5 May. His brother’s wife, 50-year-old Mariam died at a private hospital Changarothu in the district on Saturday, 19 May.
A district-level special task force, headed by Kozhikode District Collector UV Jose, has been formed in the wake of the deaths due to this virus, official sources said.
The Director of Health Service, Kerala, Dr RL Sarita, took the decision to form the task force after the meeting.
A single-window system has been put in place to monitor emergency treatment to meet any eventuality, they said.
The News Minute further reported that on Sunday, two more deaths occurred in Kozhikode due to a suspected viral infection.
According to reports, District Medical Officer V Jayasree gave the names of those who died on Sunday as Ismail of Koottalida and Velayudhan of Kolathur.
Dr Sarita told reporters that the deaths occurred due to a rare virus and that the health department has taken all preventive measures.
We need to ascertain which type of virus caused the deaths. Many viruses are zoonotic types and some can be transmitted through bats.Dr RL Sarita, Director of Health Service, Kerala
She said the health department has issued directions to all District Medical Officers to maintain vigil and forward information in case people with similar symptoms approach them for treatment.
"We have started special medical camps at Changarothu to avoid further spread of the disease," she added.
Eariler, 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 JP Nadda, a copy of which was made available to the press in Kochi, he 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 had termed it as Nipah virus, while others said it was zoonotic, spread fast, and was fatal.
The mortality rate is reportedly 70 percent. The spread of the disease needs to be contained.Mullappally Ramachandran, Lok Sabha MP
What is the Nipah Virus?
Nipah virus (NiV) infection in humans has a range of clinical presentations, from asymptomatic infection to acute respiratory syndrome and fatal encephalitis, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Nipah virus transmits from animals to humans. Fruit-bats of the Pteropodidae family are the natural host of the virus.
NiV is also capable of causing disease in pigs and other domestic animals. There is no vaccine for either humans or animals. The primary treatment for human cases is intensive supportive care, according to the WHO.
Nadda Rushes NCDC Team to Kozhikode
Union Minister JP Nadda on Sunday, 20 May, asked the Director of National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to visit Kozhikode district to assist the state government in the wake of deaths due to Nipah virus.
Nadda has also directed to constitute a high level team of doctors.
A central team will be visiting the state to monitor the situation post the Union Health Minister’s direction.
"Reviewed the situation of deaths related to Nipah virus in Kerala with Secretary Health. I have directed Director NCDC to visit the district and initiate required steps as warranted by the protocol for the disease in consultation with state government," Nadda said in a tweet.
The Kozhikode health department is maintaining vigilance in the wake of three deaths reportedly due to the virus.
Two more persons, who were allegedly in contact with the deceased, are believed to be in serious condition.
Nadda’s decision comes after Lok Sabha MP and former Union minister Mullappally Ramachandran had sought the central government's intervention earlier in order to contain the outbreak of what he termed was a "rare and deadly" virus in some parts of Kozhikode.