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Kerala: Two deaths in Kozhikode spark Nipah virus concerns

After two deaths were reported in Kozhikode over similar symptoms the Health Department suspect it to be a case of Nipah virus. The confirmation is likely to be available by Tuesday (Sep 12) afternoon.

Kerala: Two deaths in Kozhikode spark Nipah virus concerns anr
First Published Sep 12, 2023, 8:52 AM IST

Kozhikode: With regard to two recent deaths in the Kozhikode district, the Health Department has advised caution due to the possibility of Nipah virus infection. The Health Department in an advisory issued on Monday (Sep 11) said that two 'unnatural deaths' were reported in Kozhikode.

The deceased individuals were reportedly natives of Maruthonkara and Thiruvallur respectively. Four people who came in contact with the deceased are being treated after showing symptoms of Nipah. The test result from the Pune Virology Institute is likely to be available this afternoon. The people in isolation include two children, aged four and nine and a 25-year-old man, who was the brother-in-law of the deceased.

One of the deceased died on August 30 while the other person succumbed to fever on Monday night. 

Meanwhile, it is reported that Nipah has been confirmed in the local inspection. There has been an effort to track down anyone who may have come into touch with the suspected cases. The health department will follow the Nipah protocol if the test findings indicate the illness.

The man who sought treatment at a private hospital in Kozhikode due to fever and another who came to the hospital with his father while he was being treated succumbed to the same symptoms. The first death was on August 30. However, there were no doubts at that time that it was Nipah. The cause of death was thought to be pneumonia. The health department clarified that although a detailed examination was conducted, there was nothing suspicious.

However, after this, the person who came with the deceased's father in the same hospital was diagnosed with similar symptoms. Soon after this, he also died leading to suspicion. By that time, four more people, including the children and relatives of the first deceased, had started showing symptoms. This strengthened the suspicion that it might be a Nipah virus.

In May 2018, the Nipah virus broke out for the first time in south India, wreaking havoc in Kerala. The epidemic in the districts of Kozhikode and Malappuram claimed a total of 17 fatalities.

What is Nipah virus?

Nipah virus (NiV) is a zoonotic virus, meaning it can be transmitted from animals to humans. It was first identified during an outbreak in Malaysia in 1998, primarily affecting pigs and subsequently transmitted to humans. The virus belongs to the Paramyxoviridae family and the Henipavirus genus. 

Nipah virus can cause severe respiratory and neurological symptoms in infected individuals. In humans, Nipah virus infection can range from asymptomatic (showing no symptoms) to severe and fatal. Symptoms may include fever, headache, muscle pain, vomiting, and acute respiratory syndrome, with a high mortality rate in severe cases.

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