Central team says Nipah virus confined to Kerala, neighbours cautious

But the health department is trying to find out other origin as the analysis report of the dead bats have proven that they were not infected by the deadly virus. The state health authorities without taking any chances have sent their samples to Pune for investigation.

"Beginning Thursday, the Kerala government has recommended using Ribavarin - an anti-viral - but only in proven cases", Menon said.

The WHO describes the virus as "newly emerging" with the potential to cause "severe disease in both animals and humans".

Health workers have also been prepared to respond to local health emergencies, she added.

Director of public health department, Dr Karma Lhazeen, said the ministry takes the Nipah virus outbreak in the neighbouring country as a public health emergency because the virus has high mortality rate.

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The Rajasthan government also issued an advisory on Saturday, asking people not to travel to affected parts of Kerala and for officials to maintain caution. The first recorded outbreak occurred in a Malaysian village in 1999, causing over 100 deaths. In some cases, the virus can get reactivated and death has also been reported, months and even years after exposure. At the time, pigs were the intermediate hosts, but further outbreaks did not have intermediate hosts.

A World Health Organization analysis paper on Nipah notes that outbreaks since 2001 have been due to drinking contaminated date palm sap, or its fermented variety, especially in Bangladesh. The latest victim, Ebin from Palazhi, who was battling the virus in a private hospital in Kozhikode passed away on Sunday afternoon. Two members of his family had earlier died of the virus. The primary treatment for those contaminated is "escalated steady care", as indicated by the United Nations wellbeing body. Most of the people who were under observation were discharged after their blood samples turned negative. But unfortunately, the lethal viruses are targeting humans through them and in future we shall witness more such novel viral outbreaks.

Since then, outbreaks have occurred nearly every year in Bangladesh, and twice before in the Indian state of West Bengal.

Symptoms include 3 to 14 days of fever and headache, followed by drowsiness, disorientation and mental confusion.

How is Nipah virus transmitted? Bat secretions laden with the virus can infect people during fruit tree climbing, eating/handling contaminated fallen fruits or consuming raw date palm sap/juice or toddy, the advisory read. What's more, just this week, a global coalition struck a $25-million deal with two biotechnology groups to speed up the work on a vaccine.

  • Ismael Montgomery