Kerala Health Department issued an alert after two “unnatural deaths” were reported due to suspected Nipah virus (NiV) in Kozhikode district. The two deaths occurred at a private hospital in the district, reports said.
According to state health minister Veena George, a relative of one of the deceased is also admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), reported news agency PTI.
Earlier on Monday, George held a high-level meeting with her teams and reviewed the situation in the district.
Kerala has seen two Nipah virus outbreaks in the past – in 2018 and in 2021. During the first outbreak, a total of 23 cases were reported with 17 people succumbing to the zoonotic virus.
Nipah virus: All you need to know
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Nipah virus infection is a zoonotic illness that is transmitted via animals to humans, and can also be transmitted via contaminated food or directly between people and is caused by fruit bats. The virus is not only fatal for humans but for animals as well.
The virus can also cause severe disease in animals such as pigs, resulting in significant economic losses for farmers, WHO said.
In individuals who contract the virus, it can lead to a variety of health conditions, ranging from asymptomatic (subclinical) infection, where there may be no noticeable symptoms, to acute respiratory illness, and in severe cases, it can result in fatal encephalitis. The symptoms of Nipah virus are similar to COVID-19 –
Swelling of brain
Headache and stiff neck
Sensitivity to light
Mental confusion and seizures
While there is no definitive treatment available for the virus, one can take precautions, such as avoiding eating fruits that have fallen on the ground, avoiding feeding pigs, and keeping fruit bats away.
(With inputs from agencies)
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