Nipah Virus strain in Kerala deaths came from Bangladesh, total death toll at 14

PUNE: Scientists at the National Institute of Virology (NIV) here have confirmed that the Bangladesh strain of Nipah virus (NiV) is responsible for the current outbreak in Kerala. They reached the conclusion after decoding the full genome of the virus drawn from the throat swab sample of an infected patient, reports the Times of India.

The Nipah virus has two strains — Malaysia (NiVM) and Bangladesh (NiVB). Both the strains have high fatality rates, between 60% and 85%, the scientists said.

“Sequencing of the genetic make-up of the virus revealed that the Indian Nipah virus genome is genetically similar to the Bangladesh strain,” senior scientist and NIV-Pune director Devendra Mourya told TOI on Tuesday. Both the strains have more or less an equal mortality rate and are responsible for local outbreaks. “No study has so far proved that the Bangladesh strain is more lethal or pathogenic than the Malaysia strain,” Mourya said.

Also ReadNipah strikes Goa, infected patient admitted to GMC

Nipah was first reported in Bangladesh’s Meherpur district as a cause of an outbreak of encephalitis in 2001. Since then, Nipah outbreaks have been reported almost every year in some districts of the neighbouring country.

“Studies in Bangladesh have revealed that consumption of palm sap infected with bat urine and saliva was mostly responsible for the transmission of the infection from bats to humans and then humans to humans as well,” NIV scientist Pragya Yadav said.

Thirteen people have died of Nipah in Kerala since the outbreak of the virus earlier this month. A suspected case of Nipha infection has been identified in Goa and the patient has been quarantined at the GMC.

A soldier died on Monday in Kolkata of the suspected Nipah virus, which has caused 13 deaths in Kerala. With the death of the soldier, the death toll nationwide has risen to 14 as of Wednesday evening.

The soldier, Seenu Prasad, was from Kerala and was posted at Fort William. He was admitted to hospital on 20 May, seven days after his return from a month’s holiday in Kerala.

Also ReadNipah virus spreads through infected Mangoes & other fruits

A central team comprising experts from the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and the NIV has visited the Government Medical College in Kozhikode to understand gaps in the hospital’s infection control measures and medical management. “Our specialized team is working with the central team on the field and also at the hospital to contain the outbreak. They are also working in and around houses of people diagnosed with the infection in the beginning to find the possible links of infection,” Mourya said.

The samples of bats found in the well of a house in Perambra, considered the epicentre of the outbreak in Kerala, tested negative for the virus at the designated laboratory in Bhopal. “The bats whose samples were tested at the Bhopal lab were not fruit bats (Pteropus giganteus). This particular species is the only known reservoir for the virus to date,” Mourya said.

Nipah strikes Goa, even as death toll in Kerala rises to 14, infected patient admitted to GMC

The state-run Goa Medical College (GMC) hospital near Panaji, on Monday, quarantined a native of Kerala who traveled to Goa by train after he developed symptoms similar to those affected by the deadly Nipah virus, reports The Hindu.

Health Minister Vishwajeet Rane, told press persons that it was still unclear whether the patient was suffering from Nipah disease and that they would get clarity once test results are verified at the National Institute of Virology in Pune.

Also Read: Nipah virus spreads through infected Mangoes & other fruits

There is no known cure for the Nipah virus infection and about 80 per cent of the patients infected are known to succumb to the infection or related complications.

“It is not clear yet whether it is a Nipah case. We will have to wait for test results from Pune. The person admitted himself to the hospital, after he felt he had some symptoms similar to those affected by Nipah and he has been kept in the isolation ward at the GMC,” said Mr. Rane.

Also ReadProbable Case of Nipah Infection in Kerala Tourist in South Goa

Mr. Rane asserted that all measures were being taken to ensure that the patient is quarantined, until the test results are received by his Ministry.

Nipah virus, which has led to some deaths in Kerala, is transmitted through direct contact with infected bats, pigs or from other NiV-infected people.

The death toll due to the deadly Nipah virus rose to 14 on Sunday after it claimed another life in Kerala’s Calicut or Kozhikode. 26-year-old Abin of Olavanna, who was undergoing treatment at a private hospital, succumbed to his illness yesterday, the Times of India reported.

As per the report, Abin, who was an auto-rickshaw driver, had reportedly visited his family house in Perambra, from where the first two cases of Nipah virus victims were reported. Meanwhile, in yet another development on Monday, news agency ANI reported that a native of Kerala has been kept in an isolated ward of Goa Medical College, after he developed symptoms similar to the Nipah virus.

Nipah Virus: After 2 cases detected, Karnataka advises Malayali nurses, students not to travel to Kerala

The Karnataka Health and Family Welfare Department has advised Malayali nurses and medical students working in the state to not go home, following the Nipah Virus outbreak in Kerala. The Department has, in a precautionary effort, asked them to stay away from the worst-hit districts of Kozhikode and Malappuram – which together have recorded 12 deaths from to the virus attack.

On Friday, a Malayalam media report had stated that the Health Department in Karnataka had issued a directive prohibiting nurses and medical students from visiting Kerala for the next two months. It had also stated that the Department had instructed hospitals to ensure that these staff do not visit the state, as that would increase the chances of the virus entering Karnataka.

This is, however, untrue. No directive or circular prohibiting Malayali nurses from going home has been issued by the Health Department, Amjad, President of the Karnataka wing of the United Nurses Association, a pan-India trade Union told TNM. Instead, he said, the nurses and medical students were advised not to return to Kerala.

“Nobody can stop someone from going home. It was just an advice and precautionary effort taken by the Health Department to ensure the virus doesn’t enter Karnataka. Yes, the nurses are asked to avoid going home, but nobody is stopped anyone from going in case of an emergency,” he said.

Karnataka’s hospitals reportedly have a sizeable population of nurses from Kerala. Several of these nurses and medical students would ideally visit their family back home this time of the year, considering it is the holiday season, the month of Ramzan with Eid being celebrated on June 15. However, considering the current situation in the state, several nurses and students residing in Karnataka might reconsider visiting their families this year.

Earlier this week, it was suspected that two people had contracted the virus in Mangaluru. A 20-year-old woman who had travelled from Kasargod and a 75-year-old man with no travel history.

However, the Health Department confirmed that the results of the two suspects came out negative and there were no recorded cases of Nipah Virus in the state.

The virus has claimed 12 lives until now, with three in Malappuram district. The virus is said to have originated in Kozhikode, where 4 members of the family, who were the initial victims, have passed away from the attack.

Nipah Virus Travel Warning: UAE tells citizens not to travel to Kerala

DUBAI:  The United Arab Emirates has asked its citizens to put off unnecessary travel to Kerala, where a Nipah virus infection has claimed 12 lives while at least 40 others are in quarantine, the health ministry said in a statement.

The Nipah virus, which commonly affects animals such as bats, pigs, dogs, and horses, can spread to humans and cause serious illness among humans.

In Kerala, the Nipah virus has so far claimed 12 lives and the state government has stepped up efforts to contain the outbreak.

The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention (Mohap) in a statement said that it was closely monitoring the situation.

“The ministry works with its strategic partners to assess the risk of importation of Nipah virus (NiV) cases to the country and put the necessary control measures. Also, Mohap is in continuous coordination with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to implement the global recommendations,” the statement read.

“Mohap alerts the people travelling to Kerala to be aware of possibly of contracting the infection and advises them to postpone unnecessary travel till the situation will be controlled,” it added.

Among the advisories given, the world body has advised countries to enhance surveillance at healthcare facilities including at points of entry and give case definitions among healthcare workers.

It said that Nipah symptoms are not specific and include flu-like illness and hence can be confused with any respiratory illness.

Dubai-based Emirates airlines also issues a statement saying that they are monitoring the situation closely.

“Emirates is aware of recent Nipah cases reported in the state of Kerala, India. The safety of our passengers and crew will always be our top priority, and we are monitoring the situation closely. With regards to preventive or other measures, we will take guidance from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other international bodies. At this time, there are no recommended actions for airlines, ” the statement said.

Two Nipah virus cases detected in Karnataka, as 12 dead in Kerala

Two people suspected to be infected with the brain-damaging Nipah virus are under treatment in Karnataka, a health official said. The rare virus has killed at least 11 people in adjacent Kerala, where medical crews are scrambling to manage the spread of the deadly disease – and to minimise panic.

Symptoms of the virus surfaced in a 20-year-old woman and a 75-year-old man in the port city of Mangalore after they travelled to neighbouring Kerala and had contact with infected patients, said Rajesh BV, a health official in Karnataka on Wednesday.

“They are not confirmed Nipah cases yet, so there is no need to panic,” he said by telephone. “The situation is under control.”

The patients are being treated and samples of their blood have been sent for screening, with results expected by Thursday, he added.

Nipah is a rare virus spread by fruit bats, which can cause flu-like symptoms and brain damage.

The Nipah virus or NiV infection has symptoms like breathing trouble, brain swelling, fever, headache, drowsiness, disorientation and delirium. A patient can fall into coma within 48 hours. It travels through direct contact with a patient.

There is no vaccine for the virus yet, says the World Health Organisation. The main treatment for those infected is “intensive supportive care”, according to the UN health body.

The WHO has named Nipah as one of the eight priority diseases that could cause a global epidemic, alongside the likes of Ebola and Zika.

Health officials investigating the outbreak in Kerala, where the first death happened last week, have traced it to a well infested with bats from which the victims drew water.

Kerala is on high alert over the infection and two control rooms have been opened in Kozhikode. A central team has also been sent to the district to help the state administration.

Travel to Kerala, a popular tourist destination, was however declared safe by Rajeev Sadanandan, a state health official, who said the outbreak “remains highly localised”, with all cases linked to one family.

He declined to comment on the Mangalore cases, but identified the districts of Kannur, Kozhikode, Malappuram and Wayanad for tourists in Kerala to avoid, as being close to the outbreak and under scrutiny by health officials.

“Since there are many foreigners who travel to Kerala, we are advising they can avoid these districts for abundant caution,” he told Reuters.

Among the dead in the Kerala outbreak was nursing assistant and mother-of-two Lini Puthussery, who had helped to treat one of the original family suffering from Nipah earlier this month.

At least 17 patients are still under treatment, Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja said. “All steps to prevent the spread of the virus have been taken,” she added, urging people not to destroy colonies of fruit bats.

Source: © Thomson Reuters 2018

After 11 deaths, Kerala advises against travelling to 4 districts of Kozhikode, Malappuram, Waynad and Kannur

After 11 deaths due to the deadly Nipah Virus in northern Kerala, the state government on Wednesday issued an advisory asking travelers to avoid visiting the four districts of Kozhikode, Malappuram, Waynad and Kannur. Tourists have been warned against entering the above four districts.

“Travelling to any part of Kerala is safe. However, if travellers wish to be extra cautious, they may avoid the four districts”, Health Secretary Rajeev Sadanandan said.

The government has also called for an all-party meeting at Kozhikode on May 25 to disucss the issue. MPs, MLAs, other representatives of people and leaders of various political parties would attend the meeting, Health minister K K Shylaja today said.

Ten people have lost their lives to Nipah in Kozhikode and Malappuram districts so far and 19 are undergoing treatment in various hospitals, including one in Waynad. Of the 13 confirmed cases, 10 persons have died and two are extremely serious.

Isolation wards have also been set up in Thalassery government hospital in Kannur, according to media reports. In Kozhikode, from where seven deaths have been reported, District Collector U V Jose has ordered temporary stoppage of all training programmes and summer camps in affected areas such as Changaroth, Koorachund, Kottur, Cheruvannur, Chekyad, Chakkittapara and Olavanna.

The anganwadis is these regions too have been asked to close down to avoid the spread of the virus among children. However, no decision has been taken yet concerning the reopening of schools after the summer vacation.

The administration is hoping that the situation will be under control by the time schools reopen after a week.

“The number of newly infected cases is very low now”, Jose said in a statement.

In neighbouring Malappuram, where three persons have died due to the virus,orders have been issued in four panchayats to stop Anganwadi classes for the time being. A crisis management group has been constituted to coordinate the responseof government agencies following the deaths in Kozhikode and Malappuram districts.

The group comprises Additional Chief Secretaries of Health, Revenue, Labour, Home; Principal secretary Forest, Director Animal Husbandry and state Epidemiologists, among others.

Keeping in mind the sacrifice of 28-year-old Lini Puthussery, a nurse at Perambra Taluk hospital, who died after being infected by the virus while treating her patients, Government today decided to give a job to her husband and financial assistance of rs 10 lakh each for her two sons – aged five and two. The next of kin of nine others who died of the virus would be given an assistance of Rs five lakh each.

Meanwhile, DGP Loknath Behara warned that stern action would be taken against those who spread false information with regard to the virus in the social media.

Creation of fake or false messages, spreading them to cause panic or public disorder are criminal acts and liable for investigation and prosecution. Directions have been issued to DGP (crimes) to register criminal cases against the creators of the messages and propagators, he said.

An expert team from the National Centre for Disease -Control (NCDC), including its director, Dr Sujeet Kumar Singh and Head of Epidemiology, Dr S K Jain, and a high-level team from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS)are already in Kerala to take stock of the situation.

Surveillance has been increased in all districts. The outbreak of the virus infection, which is a newly emerging zoonosis that causes severe disease in both animals and humans, is suspected to be from an unused well which was infested with bats.

The natural host of the virus is believed to be fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family, Pteropus genus. The Kerala Health minister also said there was no need to be afraid of bats and their habitats should not to destroyed.

With PTI inputs

Fake Messages, Rumours about Nipah Virus: Kerala Govt Warns of Legal Action

Even as the Kerala Health Department is in the process of containing the Nipah virus that has already claimed the lives of eleven people in the state, the department now has a new challenge to tackle – fake messages and false information.

The state police on Wednesday warned of strict legal action against people spreading false information on Nipah virus through social media.

In a press release issued, Director General of Police (DGP) Loknath Behera took note of the messages circulating on social media platforms and said that such content has caused panic among the people. Apart from creating such false messages, even forwarding and circulating them will attract police investigation, the DGP said.

The notice was issued in the wake of several false messages circulating on various social media platforms regarding the spread of Nipah virus.

Kerala governor P Sathasivam also cautioned people against false messages circulating on social media. He asked the people not to panic and urged people to follow advisories issued by the health department.

One such message created to induce panic asked people not to travel to Kerala, since “there is an outbreak of Nipah virus and the situation is alarming.” The message also said that nobody from Kerala must be allowed to enter Goa, “by road, air, train or ship without checkups.”

The fake message speculates that Nipah virus will spread to Goa in a week’s time and to Mumbai in eight days’ time, saying that people should not come in contact with those who return from Kozhikode in Kerala.

In the notice issued by the state police, the DGP said that messages asking people not to visit Kerala or asking people not to allow Keralites to travel elsewhere, are false.

“Such messages have caused panic among the people. No official agency has issued such an advisory,” the DGP said.

Another audio message in Malayalam says that fruit bats are not the carriers of Nipah virus and that the real reason for the spread of the virus are due to migrant workers, whose living conditions are unhygienic.

‘Nipah a creation of health dept,’ claims naturopathy practitioners 

While WhatsApp forwards on Nipah virus continue to be circulated, naturopathy practitioners from Kerala, who have significant social media presence, have countered the official information on Nipah.

In a video posted on Facebook, Mohanan Vaidyar, a naturopathy practitioner claimed that Nipah virus was a creation of the health department.

In the 3-minute video, Mohanan carries out a demonstration with mangoes, which he claimed were bitten by bats at Perambra in Kozhikode, where a few people were infected with the virus.

“I am not even going to wash these, how can we live if we begin to fear bacteria and virus?” he asks, proceeding to cut the mangoes and eat them.

“If this is virus, I will die tomorrow. What are they saying…wash it with soap, don’t go near a cow! Nipah fever is a project of the health department. It is the health department that is creating this fever. If bats were responsible, then they would have died first of the fever! But bats haven’t died,” Mohanan claimed.

Another naturopathy practitioner Jacob Vadakkanchery claimed that pesticides sprayed on food items could be the reason for the fever.

“What nonsense is the health department saying? It’s a rare virus, spread by fruit-eating bats. Medical mafia is creating all this. They say leptospirosis spreads through rat’s urine, they say dengue is caused by mosquitos. They are all lies, if it were so, then why don’t people living under unhygienic conditions on the road side, contract these diseases? What the health department must check is what kind of food the patients ate. Did they consume stale food, especially non-veg food? Then they have to check what kind of pesticides were used on these animals, that were consumed. Pesticides can cause new kind of diseases,” Jacob claimed.

IMA demands action

In a letter to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, IMA stated that there were people with vested interests, who were wrongly propagating information about Nipah virus.

“It has come to our notice that there are certain people who claim to have vaccines. We urge you to take action against these people. Quacks too, are spreading false and harmful information and we urge you to order an investigation against them,” the letter reads.

As of date, there is no vaccine or cure for Nipah virus. Only supportive care based on symptoms are being administered to Nipah patients.