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Rare Nipah virus kills 6 in Kerala, Centre rushes NCDC team; health department on high alert

"The mortality rate is reportedly 70 per cent. The spread of the disease needs to be contained," a senior official said.

Reported by: PTI, Kozhikode [ Updated: May 21, 2018 18:04 IST ]
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The Kerala health department has been put on high alert in the wake of number of deaths in the past fortnight due to 'Nipah' virus. Kozhikode district collector has confirmed six deaths due to the deadly 'Nipah' virus.

Union Minister JP Nadda had on Sunday (May 20) directed the Director of National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to visit Kerala's Kozhikode district to assist the state government in the wake of the death of three people due to Nipah virus.

"Reviewed the situation of deaths related to Nipah virus in Kerala with Secretary Health. I have directed Director NCDC to visit the district and initiate required steps as warranted by the protocol for the disease in consultation with state government," Nadda had said in a tweet.

Nipah virus (NiV) infection in humans has a range of clinical presentations, from asymptomatic infection to the acute respiratory syndrome and fatal encephalitis, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). 

State Health Minister KK Shylaja had said the nature of the virus was yet to be ascertained.

"The kind of virus that caused the disease has not been ascertained. Blood and other samples of the deceased have been sent to the National Virology Institute, Pune. The results will be made available in a few days," Shylaja told reporters here after chairing a meet of top health department officials. 

A district-level special task force, headed by Kozhikode District collector, UV Jose has been formed in the wake of the deaths due to this virus, official sources said.

The Director of Health service, Dr RL Sarita, took the decision to form the task force after the meeting.

A single window system has been put in place to monitor emergency treatment to meet any eventuality, they said.

While a 50-year-old woman died at a private hospital in Changarothu in the district on May 19, her male relatives, aged 25 and 23, died on May 18 and 5.

Sarita told mediapersons that the deaths occurred due to a rare virus and that the health department has taken all preventive measures.

"We need to ascertain which type of virus caused the deaths. Many viruses are zoonotic types and some can be transmitted through bats," she said.

She said the health department has issued directions to all District Medical Officers to maintain vigil and forward information in case people with similar symptoms approach them for treatment.

"We have started special medical camps at Changarothu to avoid further spread of the disease," she added.

Earlier, Lok Sabha MP and former union minister Mullappally Ramachandran sought the central government's intervention to contain the outbreak of what he termed was a 'rare and deadly' virus in some parts of Kozhikode district.

In a letter to Nadda, a copy of which was made available to the press in Kochi, he said some panchayats, including Kuttiyadi and Perambra, in his Lok Sabha constituency of Vatakara were in the grip of the "deadly virus."

He said some doctors had termed it as 'Nipah virus,' while others said it was zoonotic and it spread fast and was fatal.

"The mortality rate is reportedly 70 per cent. The spread of the disease needs to be contained," he said. 

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