Kerala Health Department: These doctors were the first to figure out this infection was different

While the Health Department has earned platitudes for identifying Nipah virus as the reason for the fever deaths, credit goes to three doctors at Baby Memorial Hospital here for pointing out

Published: 25th May 2018 01:45 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th May 2018 01:45 AM   |  A+A-

(From left) Doctors Ganga Prasad, Ajith K Gopan and Anoop Kumar | Express

Express News Service

KOZHIKODE: While the Health Department has earned platitudes for identifying Nipah virus as the reason for the fever deaths, credit goes to three doctors at Baby Memorial Hospital here for pointing out that possibility for the first time. Dr Anoop Kumar, Dr Ajith K Gopan and Dr Ganga Prasad were the doctors who realised that they were dealing with a new kind of viral infection.

In the early hours of May 17, Mohammed Salih was admitted to Baby Memorial Hospital with suspected viral encephalitis, an infection of the brain. As his condition was unstable, the medical team immediately shifted him to the intensive care unit. “His clinical symptoms were not typical of the usual type of encephalitis,” said Dr Anoop.

So, the doctors took a look at the patient’s medical history and it came to their notice that his brother Sabith had died with the same symptoms two weeks ago at Kozhikode MCH. Soon, they realised they may be treating a hitherto unknown type of viral infection.“Then we asked his relatives whether anybody else had similar symptoms. They said three family members had similar symptoms. We asked them to come to the hospital and examined them. Of the three, the condition of two of them deteriorated rapidly. So, we realised we are dealing with an unusual and lethal situation,” said Dr Anoop.

On the same day, the doctors contacted Dr Anoop’s friend Dr G Arunkumar of Manipal Centre for Virus Research. The body fluid samples of the four patients were sent to Manipal for tests.The doctors consulted with the neuro department and came to the conclusion that it was Nipah. On the same day, Salih died. At 8 pm, a report arrived from Manipal confirming their suspicion.

The doctors immediately shared the findings with the authorities of the MCH and with the permission of relatives, conducted pathological autopsy at the MCH to ascertain the exact cause of death.
The timely intervention of the three doctors helped the government to identify the virus.

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