Virus outbreak kills 9 in India’s Kerala state

The outbreak of Nipah virus in the southern Indian state of Kerala has put the Indian authorities on alert. At least nine people have died in the State Kozhikode district due to high fever with two out of the nine deceased were affected with the rare Nipah virus.

Kerala Health Secretary Rajiv Sadanandan said that they have now got the confirmation from the National Institute of Virology, Pune. The health department has, however, not confirmed the cause of the death of the other seven patients and sent their samples for tests.

What is Nipah virus?

Nipah virus (NiV) infection is a newly emerging zoonosis that causes severe disease in both animals and humans. The natural host of the virus are fruit bats of the Pteropodidae Family, Pteropus genus. NiV infection in humans has a range of clinical presentations, from asymptomatic infection to acute respiratory syndrome and fatal encephalitis. NiV is also capable of causing disease in pigs and other domestic animals. There is no vaccine for either humans or animals. The primary treatment for human cases is intensive supportive care.

Symptoms

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, infection with Nipah virus is associated with encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). After exposure and an incubation period of 5 to 14 days,illness presents with 3-14 days of fever and headache, followed by drowsiness, disorientation and mental confusion. These signs and symptoms can progress to coma within 24-48 hours. Some patients have a respiratory illness during the early part of their infections, and half of the patients showing severe neurological signs showed also pulmonary signs.