Nipah Virus: Death toll rises to 14, two more cases confirmed

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The Nipah virus claimed one more life in Kozhikode district of Kerala on Sunday, taking the overall death toll to 14. But the doctors eventually made a decision to test for Nipah virus in the wake of general panic among people.

Kerala Health minister K K Shailaja said that at least 175 people are being monitored by the authorities. "We have a holistic mechanism in place to detect and respond to such incidences". "Also, 95 families are under surveillance", a health ministry official said. "After receiving the information, we do a risk assessment at the Royal Centre for Disease Control and make recommendations immediately".

The natural host of the virus is believed to be fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family, Pteropus genus. Also, humans become infected with Nipah as a result of consuming food products contaminated by secretions of infected fruit bats. And then human beings easily spread Nipah body fluids and saliva.

According to the World Health Organization, the infection is a "newly emerging zoonosis that causes severe disease in both animals and humans", and is on the World Health Organization list of "Blueprint priority diseases". Its symptoms are headaches, fever, body-ache, cough, problems in breathing, vomiting, diarrhoea, laziness and others. And a person affected by the virus can slip into comma within 24 - 48 hours.

The outbreak of.deadly virus has not spread beyond two areas in south India, officials said, but they have issued a series of warnings to people living in the stricken towns.

He said nipah virus is not carried by mosquitoes.

"They should also avoid close contacts with people around unless it is ruled out that they are not infected with the virus".

Research on developing a new drug to fight the virus is expected to begin soon at the Government Medical College, Thiruvananthapuram, in association with the Indian Council for Medical Research and global experts.

There is no real treatment but supportive care is given to the affected patients, which means treating the symptoms differently.

V. Moosa, who died Thursday in a hospital in the southwest state of Kerala, had two sons and a sister-in-law succumb to the same deadly infection spread by fruit bats last week.

In a related development, a police probe, initiated to find out the travel itinerary of the virus' first victim Sabith, found out that he never visited Malaysia but had been in the United Arab Emirates, from where he had returned in October a year ago.

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