The death toll from the deadly Nipah virus in Kerala rose to 12 on Thursday after the father of the two men fatally affected by the rare disease died, officials said, a day after the Union health ministry said it was able to contain the “highly localised infection”, Hindustantimes reported.
Valachekutti Moosa, 62, died early on Thursday after fighting for his life for more than three weeks in Kozhikode district. He was confirmed to have been infected with the viral disease on Monday and was on life-support.
Moosa’s sons — Mohamed Saliah, 28, and Mohammed Sadiq, 26, — and his brother’s wife Mariumma, 50, had died earlier. A nurse, Lini, who treated them at a government hospital also succumbed.
The fiancée of Moosa’s eldest son Saliah is also in hospital with similar symptoms.
Two more Nipah cases were confirmed in Malappuram district. Seven infected persons are already being treated in isolation wards. Another seven, including three persons from Karnataka’s Mangaluru who travelled to the Nipah-hit Kerala districts, were under observation though they had not shown symptoms of the infection.
The virus that causes high fever, headache and coma in extreme cases is spread by fruit bats. Body fluids can cause human-to-human transmission of Nipah, which has a mortality rate of 70% and has no vaccine.
“Moosa had asked Saliah to clean the well before he left the country, which he did with the help of his brothers. Little did they know what fate awaited them,” said one of their relatives K Latheef, who runs a small grocery shop in the neighbourhood.
The bats living in Moosa’s well have been identified as the source of the outbreak by the National Institute of Virology in Pune and the well has been sealed, along with many others in the neighbourhood.
The infection appears to have spared Moosa’s wife Mariyam and son Muthaleef, who have shown no symptoms of the disease but have been kept under observation for two weeks, according to World Health Organisation protocol.