Nipah deaths in Kerala, two in critical condition; high alert sounded

Nipah: Medicines to be brought from Malaysia, says minister

He said the dead bats have been sent to the National Institute of Virology (NIV) for investigation. She is believed to have contracted the virus when she was visiting her relative in Kasargod who died of the virus infection.

The administration in Nahan sub-division of Sirmaur district in Himachal Pradesh has geared up to curb spread of the virus, and a special meeting of officials from different departments were held.

Most of the deaths reported are from Kozhikode and Malappuram districts from where 11 deaths have now been reported and 18 are undergoing treatment in various hospitals, including one in Wayanad.

Transmission of Nipah virus takes place through direct contact with infected bats, pigs or other Nipah-infected persons.

Mr Choubey said hospitals in public and private sectors have been provided with personal protective equipment and appropriate steps to contain this virus have been taken.

In 1998, when the virus was discovered in the Malaysian village of Nipah, it claimed 105 lives.

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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.

The Health Department said on Thursday that a total of 160 samples were sent for testing to Pune.

Nipah virus (NiV) infection is a newly emerging zoonosis that causes severe illness in both animals and humans. In Bangladesh in 2004, humans were infected with Nipah virus after consuming date palm sap that had been contaminated by infected fruit bats.

The deaths in Kerala is the third instance in India's history of a Nipah virus outbreak, the first two times being in West Bengal's Siliguri in 2001 and Nadia in 2007. Intermediate hosts of this instance were found to be pigs.

Still, Nipah remains a relatively rare tropical disease - like Ebola - which severely limits the incentive for drug companies to invest in vaccines or drugs. Treatment for the virus, which has a mortality rate of about 70 percent, is supportive care.

When the virus infects human beings, it could range from merely being asymptomatic to also developing acute respiratory syndrome to fatal encephalitis. The symptoms are nearly identical to influenza, including fever and muscle ache and in some cases patients have brain inflammation as well.

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