Kerala is currently batting with a surge in cases of Nipah virus after a 12-year-old boy died on Sunday in the district of Kozhikode in a private hospital. The hospital was later shut for all patients.
The Nipah virus is a zoonotic infection that transmits between species, from animals to humans or vice versa. According to experts, once the Nipah virus jumps from animals to humans, they become highly contagious and have high morbidity and mortality rates.
The number of people symptomatic for Nipah infection rose to 11 on Monday.
Health Minister Veena George told the media late in the evening that among those symptomatic are Mohammed Hashim’s parents (the boy who died due to virus), Vayoli Aboobacker and Wahida, their close relatives and healthcare workers.
Samples of eight of these people, as well as of the Rambutan fruit grown near Hashim’s home that the family says he ate, have been sent to the National Institute of Virology, Pune, for screening which have reportedly turned negative. The sample could help identify the source of the infection and confirm whether it originated from a bat.
A team from the National Centre for Disease Control, Delhi, that visited the area has advised extra vigil for symptoms. Hashim developed encephalitis or inflammation of the brain, and myocarditis, which affects the heart muscles.
Other symptoms include respiratory illnesses, myalgia or muscular pain, fever, headache, nausea, stomach pain, blurred vision and seizures. Encephalitis and seizures occur in severe cases and can send the person into a coma within 24-48 hours.
There is no vaccine for the virus, which can cause raging fevers, convulsions and vomiting. The only treatment is supportive care to control complications and keep patients comfortable.
The virus has an estimated fatality rate of 40-75%, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), making it deadlier than the coronavirus.