A thorough study by the Kerala government in the recent outbreak of Nipah virus has suggested that 17 of the 19 infected people might have contracted the deadly virus from the first victim, 26-year-old Mohammed Sabith.
Sabith, who died on May 5, was among the 17 people who lost their lives after they contracted the virus. Two people had recovered.
As per available records, it has been found that Sabith contracted the Nipah virus from fruit bats and 17 others—including three from his family i.e. father, younger brother and a paternal aunt—got infected from him, government sources said.
Besides, the virus from him is also suspected to have infected four other people at the Peramabra Taluk Hospital, Kohzikode, where he was first brought, the sources in the state surveillance department of the Kerala Health Services said, adding that 10 others in the Kozhikode medical college hospital, where he was taken for a CT scan in the radiology department, also picked the virus from him.
One patient was infected by another man at the Perambra hospital, they said.
It is suspected that Sabith, an electrician, had contracted the virus from fruit bats, however, it is not clear the circumstances under which he got infected. Sabith had returned from the gulf eight months before he died.
Sabith first took treatment as an ‘out patient’ at the Perambra hospital for high fever and body pain on May 2.
On May 3, he was admitted at the hospital, and it is suspected that four people on night duty including sister Lini Puthussery, who attended to him, picked the virus from him.
As his condition worsened on May 4, Sabith was shifted to the Medical College hospital for a CT scan, where he died on May 5. Ten people got infected at the medical college on the single day he was there, the sources said.
Though Sabith’s blood samples were not tested for Nipah, as per records, it has been concluded that he had contracted Nipah virus, the sources said.
His younger brother was admitted to the hospital with similar symptoms and tests revealed that he was Nipah positive. He died shortly after, followed by their 60-year-old father and a paternal aunt who had come to help them.
It was suspected that the brothers might have contracted the virus when they got into a bat-infested well in their newly bought property. However, the bats in the well were found to be insect-eating ones, the sources said.
As a precautionary measure, a contact list of nearly 3,000 people with whom the infected persons had been in touch was prepared and they were put under quarantine. Nipah test was also conducted on them, the sources said.
The exhaustive report on the Nipah outbreak has been sent to the central surveillance department, the sources said.
Since the outbreak had national implications, the state surveillance unit has sought permission to officially close the outbreak as the 42-day double incubation period of the virus is over.
Two of the infected patients made a miraculous recovery bringing cheer to the doctors and nurses who treated them.
Fever, altered mental status, severe weakness, headache, respiratory distress, cough, vomiting, muscle pain, convulsion, diarrhoea are the symptoms of the virus, which also causes severe illness characterised by inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) or respiratory diseases.
The government had declared Kozhikode and Malappuram districts as free of Nipah on June 30 after no new cases were reported since May 31.