After the Nipah virus outbreak in the southern Indian state of Kerala last week which affected 10 people, more casualties have been reported, Reuters has reported.
The Nipah virus claimed one more life in Kozhikode district of Kerala Sunday, taking the overall death toll to 14. Meanwhile, two more confirmed cases of Nipah were reported in the state.
Nearly 116 suspected cases were sent for testing in recent weeks, 15 have been confirmed with Nipah, the Kerala government said on its website Monday. Thirteen of the 15 people have died and two are undergoing treatment.
The latest victim was a 26-year-old rickshaw driver from Kerala’s Kozhikode district who died on the weekend, hospital officials told Reuters.
"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," the United States' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated.
"All efforts are also being made to ensure that more lives are not lost," Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said last week, adding that the government treating the outbreak with the “utmost seriousness."
According to the reports, India has begun a fresh round of tests to trace the origin of the rare brain-damaging virus, a health official said on Monday, as initial tests on animals suspected of carrying the Nipah virus showed no sign of the disease.
All the animal samples, including those from bats, cattle, goats and pigs from the southern state have been sent to the National Institute of High-Security Animal Diseases, in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, were negative for Nipah, said animal husbandry officer A. Mohandas.
Separate samples have been collected of fruit bats from Perambra, the suspected epicenter of the infection and nearby areas, Mohandas said. Meanwhile, tests run on dead bats in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh were negative for Nipah, an official there said. The dead bats were discovered on the roof of a school that triggered a new Nipah scare last week.
There is no vaccine for the virus, which is spread through body fluids and can cause encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain, the World Health Organization (WHO) says.
Last week, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) said that Profectus BioSciences and Emergent BioSolutions will receive up to US$25 million to accelerate work on a vaccine against Nipah virus. The World Health Organization first identified the outbreak of the disease in Malaysia in 1998.