Nipah virus death toll rises to 16 in Kerala

Besides 1,353 persons who had interacted with the affected before the confirmation of the disease are under observation

Both were undergoing treatment at the state-run hospital at Balussery near here.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Nipah virus was first identified during an outbreak of diseases that took place in Malaysia in 1998. The incubation period of the virus is 21 days which means that if a person is exposed to virus, the infection symptoms will start showing in 21 days. Kozhikode District collector UV Jose has requested local courts to suspend their operations till the situation improves. Her death is not due to Nipah, informed Dr Reena KJ, Additional Director of Health Services.

Officials added that there have been no suspected virus cases in the state till now and that Assam is not under any direct threat since the fruits, barring only coconut, are usually not imported here from Kerala.

Reopening of schools in the two districts had earlier been postponed to June 5.

Of the 203 samples tested for Nipah, there have been 18 positive cases, of whom 16 persons have lost their lives. Meanwhile, Health Minister K K Shylaja has said that an all- party meeting would be convened on June 4 to review the situation.

There are six news cases registered and all those have been admitted in Kozhikode Medical College hospital on Friday.

The advisory cautions all Bhutanese students studying in India on the outbreak of Nipah virus in Kerala. Urging for research to understand the ecology of bats and NiV, WHO has advised against the application of any travel or trade restrictions in India based on the information now available on this event.

IMA had organized a programme on Thursday to share scientific details about Nipah virus with people and create awareness. But, her blood samples were found to be negative, she said, stressing the need to remain extremely vigilant even though there were no fresh cases. The instruction was issued on the basis of the assumption that a person who had died the other day had contracted the virus during treatment there. The report quoted him adding that since the number of infected fruit bats are "very few" at a given time, it becomes hard to find the actual source of infection.