In southern Kerala, at least 11 people have died because of a minor Nipah virus outbreak that has also caused 25 others to become hospitalized. In the past two decades India has seen two previous outbreaks of Nipah viral infection (2001 in Siliguri in West Bengal & 2007 in Nadia in West Bengal).
The Nipah virus mystery deepened on Saturday as the samples collected from bats in Kerala's Kozhikode and Malappuram districts, where 13 people have died of the infection, have tested negative for the virus. Officials believe the outbreak in India might have started with bats.
The virus can be transferred through infected bats, pigs or humans who have been infected. What exactly is Nipah virus and where does it come from?
India is already going through the triple burden of disease and aggravation of such re-emerging infections on a frequent basis will be water shed moment for development.
"Health staff are visiting individual households giving them specific instructions including about eating fruits from outside and other precautions", Mr U.V. Jose, the senior-most official in Kozhikode, told the AFP news agency. The government has directed border districts to submit a daily outbreak report. "They are all contacts of the confirmed cases and their lab results are awaited". Nipah virus can survive for many days in sugar-rich solutions such as fruit pulp and toddy. In Bangladesh in 2004, humans were infected with Nipah virus after consuming date palm sap that had been contaminated by infected fruit bats.
Getty nimal Husbandry department and Forest officials inspect a well to to catch bats in Kozhikode
The virus is spread through bodily fluids that can be passed from one creature to another.
There is now no vaccine or drug available for humans or animals and the main treatment is intensive support care for those who are suffering from respiratory and neurologic problems. The infection presents as an encephalitic syndrome marked by fever, headache, drowsiness, disorientation, mental confusion, coma, and potentially death.
"Due to the spread of the risky # NipahVirus in Kerala, South India, citizens are advised to be cautious, till situation is under control", a tweet from the consulate said.
Residents in the vicinity said there was very little or no quarantine treatment for those who had close contact with the affected ones. However, in subsequent Nipah virus outbreaks, there were no intermediate hosts.