Three crucial factors that led Kerala doctors to suspect Nipah caused 12-year-old boy's death

The victim had Inflammation of heart muscles and brain tissue, the oxygen level in lungs of the boy dipped too low, samples sent to Pune institute with DMO’s nod tested positive 

Published: 06th September 2021 02:19 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th September 2021 12:29 PM   |  A+A-

Central team officials visiting Nipah-affected areas at Thazhoor in Kozhikode

Central team officials visiting Nipah-affected areas at Pazhoor in Kozhikode

Express News Service

KOZHIKODE: Three crucial medical findings had driven the doctors at the Aster MIMS Hospital to suspect Nipah in the 12-year-old boy who succumbed to the infection on Sunday. 

The boy was shifted from the Medical College Hospital on September 1 to Aster MIMS with encephalitis and fits. Besides, myocarditis in the boy was also detected at Aster MIMS.

According to Dr Sathish Kumar K, senior consultant at the paediatric intensive care, Aster MIMS, “The patient had contracted a special kind of encephalitis with very high fever. His temperature was recorded between 104 and 105 degree Fahrenheit. The heart rate was high. We found myocarditis in blood test as well. Also, he developed Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) in lungs. His oxygen level in lungs was too low. The three – encephalitis (inflammation of tissues of brain), myocarditis (inflammation of heart muscle) and ARDS – lead us to suspect Nipah.”

Soon, a multi-disciplinary meeting was called on September 2 where it was decided to send the samples for a Nipah test. According to Dr Sathish Kumar, it was Dr Suresh Kumar E K, HOD, paediatrics, who suggested sending the samples for a Nipah test.  

The permission of the district medical officer was obtained before sending the samples to the National Institute of Virology in Pune the very next day.

The sample was sent in a vehicle.

“We received the confirmation report by phone at 9.30 pm on Saturday. Following this, the boy was kept on a ventilator. He never regained consciousness. He was not responding to the medicines as well,” said Dr Suresh Kumar E K. After confirming the disease, the parents saw their only child through a closed glass hole on Saturday night.


Know the virus, symptoms

It will be transmitted to humans from animals (such as bats or pigs), or contaminated foods 

Human-to-human transmission of the virus has been reported among family and caregivers of infected patients 

Fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are considered to be the natural host of the virus.  

Primary treatment for humans is supportive care. 

Signs and symptoms 

Initial symptoms include fever, headache, myalgia (muscle pain), vomiting and sore throat

Advanced symptoms include dizziness, drowsiness, altered consciousness, and neurological signs that indicate acute encephalitis (swelling of the brain).

Encephalitis and seizures occur in severe cases, progressing to coma within 24 to 48 hours.

Interval from infection to onset of symptoms is believed to range from 4 to 14 days

The virus was named after the village Nipah in Malaysia where the first case was detected


RT-PCR from bodily fluids

Antibody detection via ELISA 


Reduce the risk of human-to-human transmission by wearing masks, sanitising and keeping social distancing

Close unprotected contact with Nipah virus-infected people should be avoided 

Wash hands frequently after caring for or visiting sick people

Reduce the risk of bat-to-human transmission by boiling freshly collected date palm juice

Fruits should be thoroughly washed and peeled before consumption


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