Death toll rises to 12 in Nipah virus outbreak

Henrietta Strickland
May 26, 2018

The UAE has asked its citizens to put off unnecessary travel to Kerala where a Nipah virus outbreak has claimed 11 lives while at least 40 others are in quarantine, the health ministry said in a statement. "But, we will know the result only by Saturday evening", the official said.

The official said the test reports were expected in a day or two. All the samples to determine the cause of the infection were negative.

A global coalition to fight epidemics this week struck a $25-million deal with two USA biotech groups to speed work on a vaccine.

Earlier, Kerala Governor P Sathasivam had appealed to the people of the state not to panic over the rumours being circulated about the spread of the virus and requested everyone to follow the advisories issued by the health department.

It said that human-to-human infection can occur from close contact with persons affected with Nipah at home while providing care or close contact and in hospital setting if appropriate personal protective equipments are not used. Doctors have sent his blood and swab samples to National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune.

Although the number of patients coming for treatment with symptoms of Nipah virus infection has gone down, Kozhikode Collector U.V. Jose has banned till May 31 all public meetings and even training courses, including tuitions, to avoid assembly of people.

Nipah virus is on CEPI's list of three targets, which also includes Lassa fever and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus.

Under the terms of the $25 million agreement, Profectus will receive support to advance its Nipah virus vaccine, and Emergent will receive funding to cover technical and manufacturing support. The virus kills up to 75 percent of those infected.

The health ministry also issued a separate advisory for healthcare personnel and advised them to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds after contact with a sick patient, practice precautions for infection control while handling Nipah cases (suspected/confirmed), limiting the use of injections and sharp objects.

About 100 families where someone has had contact with infected people are being carefully monitored.

Numerous handful of mourners who turned out for the burial were also wearing breathing masks. Bat secretions laden with the virus can infect people during fruit tree climbing, eating/handling contaminated fallen fruits or consuming raw date palm sap/juice or toddy, the advisory read. People were also advised to avoid pork as pigs are also suspected to be carriers of the virus. Presumably, pigs may become infected after consumption of partially bat eaten fruits that are dropped in pigsties.

The local administration, with the help of the central Health Ministry team, has set up a task force with a designated control room, while a nodal officer has been appointed to collect data and monitor the activities to ensure preventive measures.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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