Nipah virus identified in Kozhikode fever deaths, Central team on way

Kozhikode/Thiruvananthapuram, May 20 (IANS) The cause of death of two people, ostensibly suffering from fever, in Kozhikode has now been confirmed to be due to the Nipah virus (NiV), spread by fruit bats and causing severe disease in both animals and humans, a top official said on Sunday.

Kerala Health Secretary Rajiv Sadanandan told IANS that they have now got the confirmation from the National Institute of Virology, Pune.

‘A central team of the Indian Council of Medical Research is arriving at Kozhikode tomorrow (Monday). There is no reason for any panic at all, as this can be managed and we have already started our work towards that. There was a similar issue in Bangladesh and it has been managed well. We have already informed the Centre about this,’ he said.

While three members of a family at Perambara in Kozhikode died within weeks after what seemed to be common fever aggravated quickly, two more family members were being treated at the Medical College hospital and one of them has also tested positive. Two more deaths, due to fever, were reported from Kozhikode on Sunday.

Earlier in the day, state Health Minister K.K. Shailaja said the cause of death of the three family members was being ascertained.

‘The samples were first sent to a laboratory in Manipal and it suggested that it was a rare virus… after that for detailed tests, the samples have been sent to the National Institute of Virology and the results are awaited…,” she told media at Kochi.

Transmission of Nipah virus takes place through direct contact with infected bats, pigs, or from other NiV-infected people and people have been also cautioned that they should not consume fruits that have fallen on to the ground.

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