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Nipah mortality rate much higher than Covid-19, says Indian medical body head as 6 tests positive in Kerala

Rajiv Bahl of Indian Council of Medical Research also said that India will procure 20 more doses of monoclonal antibody from Australia for the treatment of the infection.

In this photograph taken on September 12, 2023, health workers wearing protective gear shift the body of a person who died of a Nipah virus infection at a private hospital in Kozikode, in India’s Kerala state. (Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

RAJIV Bahl, director general of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Friday (15) cautioned that mortality rate among those infected with the deadly Nipah virus is much higher than Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking at a press conference in New Delhi, he said while Covid had a mortality rate of two to three per cent, Nipah has a much higher death rate of 40 to 70 per cent.

The official, while assuring that all efforts were being taken to contain the spread of the virus in the southern Indian state of Kerala, said it was not yet known why the cases kept on resurfacing.

“In 2018, we found the outbreak in Kerala was related to bats. We are not sure how the infection passed from bats to humans. The link could not be established. Again we are trying to find out this time. It always happens in the rainy season,” he said. 

So far, six people have tested positive for the virus in the state, out of which two have died. Restrictions have been tightened in Kozhikode district of Kerala with the local administration closing down educational institutions, parks and beaches. Prayer gatherings at religious places and all public events have also been stopped.

On Thursday (14), 11 samples of suspected cases of Nipah infection and their contacts returned as ‘negative’ from the National Institute of Virology in Pune. Fifteen other samples were also collected and sent for tests.

India to procure 20 more doses of monoclonal antibody from Australia

Bahl also said that India will procure 20 more doses of monoclonal antibody from Australia for the treatment of the infection.

“We got some doses of monoclonal antibody from Australia in 2018. Currently the doses are available for only 10 patients,” he said.

According to him, no one so far has been administered the medicine in India.

“Twenty more doses are being procured. But the medicine needs to be given during the early stage of the infection,” he said, adding it can only be given as compassionate use medicine.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that Nipah virus infection is a zoonotic illness that is transmitted via animals to humans and can also be transmitted via contaminated food or directly between people and is caused by fruit bats. The virus is not only fatal for humans, but for animals as well.

The symptoms of the Nipah virus are similar to Covid19 that include cough, sore throat, dizziness, drowsiness, muscle pain, tiredness, headache, stiff neck, and seizures, among others.

(With PTI inputs)

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