KOZHIKODE: The National Virology Institute, Pune, confirmed that the contagious fever that has killed several people in Kozhikode and Malappuram districts over the last fortnight is due to Nipah virus (NiV). Six more people succumbed to symptoms suspected to be that of Nipah virus on Sunday.
On Monday morning, a 31-year-old nurse at Perambra Taluk hospital succumbed due to suspected symptoms of the virus taking the final toll to 10.
A high-level central team will visit the district on May 21 and inspect areas where the disease has been reported.
It is the first detection in Kerala of the Nipah virus which has a high fatality rate and spreads mainly through bats, pigs and other animals. Its symptoms include fever, vomiting, headache and respiratory problems. Rajeev Sadanandan, additional chief secretary, department of health & family welfare, told TOI that the virus was confirmed in tests conducted at the Pune institute on samples of the three deceased from a family at Changaroth panchayat. “We will now treat all persons presenting similar symptoms as potential Nipah-infected cases as part of disease surveillance,” Sadanandan said.
He said that the department has not been able to ascertain the extent of the spread of the disease as the virus has an incubation period of four to 18 days. Health workers have been asked to take the highest level of protection while handling patients. The death toll due to suspected Nipah virus infection rose to nine on Sunday with the death of six more persons who had shown symptoms of the disease. Of this, two deaths were reported from Kozhikode and four from Malappuram district. The deceased from Kozhikode have been identified as Ismail, 40, from Kootalida and Janaki, 50, from Perambra. The suspected Nipah virus deaths from Malappuram are Velayudhan, 48, from Kolathur, Sindhu, 32, from Munniyur, Lijitha, 22, from Thennala and a 13 year-old boy from Kottakkal.