Kozhikode: A fourth member of the same family in Kerala has died of the rare Nipah virus, officials said on Thursday. The death toll due to the virus has risen to 12.
61-year-old V Moosa, died on Thursday in the same Kozhikode hospital in which his two sons -- Mohammed Saliah (28), Mohammed Sadiq (26) -- and a sister-in-law, Mariumma died last week.
"He was on ventilator support for a week and died today morning," a Kerala health official said.
Kozhikode where the family resides is believed to be the epicenter of the disease.
Officials found "many dead bats" in a well in that home.
The family was treated by Nurse Lini Puthussery, who died on Monday and her body was cremated immediately to avoid the spread of the disease.
31-year-old Lini, mother-of-two, was in the team that treated the first two victims, the sons of V Moosa.
Two other confirmed cases of Nipah virus have been detected and the patients are being treated in a hospital. It is unclear whether these patients came into contact with Moosa's family or contracted it elsewhere.
Two other patients were in isolation in neighbouring Karnataka after developing symptoms similar to brain-damaging Nipah virus upon returning from Kerala.
Symptoms of the virus surfaced in a 20-year-old woman and a 75-year-old man in the port city of Mangalore after they travelled to neighbouring Kerala and had contact with infected patients, said Rajesh B V, a health official in Karnataka on Wednesday.
At least 17 patients are still under treatment, Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja Teacher said. "All steps to prevent the spread of the virus have been taken," she added, urging people not to destroy colonies of fruit bats.
Nipah is a rare virus spread by fruit bats, which can cause flu-like symptoms and brain damage.
The Nipah virus or NiV infection has symptoms like breathing trouble, brain swelling, fever, headache, drowsiness, disorientation and delirium. A patient can fall into coma within 48 hours. It travels through direct contact with a patient.
There is no vaccine for the virus yet, says the World Health Organisation (WHO). The main treatment for those infected is "intensive supportive care", according to the UN health body.
The WHO has named Nipah as one of the eight priority diseases that could cause a global epidemic, alongside the likes of Ebola and Zika.
Two control rooms have been opened up in Kozhikode as high alert has been sounded in Kerala over the infection.
An expert team from the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), including its director, Dr Sujeet Kumar Singh and Head of Epidemiology, Dr S K Jain, and a high-level team from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) are camping in Kerala to take stock of the situation.
The state government has also issued an advisory, asking travellers to avoid visiting the four districts of Kozhikode, Malappuram, Wayanad and Kannur.
"Travelling to any part of Kerala is safe. However, if travellers wish to be extra cautious, they may avoid the four districts," Health Secretary Rajeev Sadanandan said.
(With inputs from agencies)...