Seenu Prasad, a 27-year-old Indian Army jawan who hails from Kerala, died on Wednesday in Kolkata of suspected Nipah virus (NiV).
Posted at Fort William, the headquarters of the Eastern Command, Prasad had visited his hometown in the southern state Kerala on a month’s leave. Kerala has been gripped by the deadly virus for the last two weeks which has resulted in 14 deaths in the state.
Prasad rejoined office on 13 May and was admitted to Command Hospital on 20 May following his failing medical condition. The defence spokesperson said that Prasad passed away five days later.
Reports say that his body fluids have been sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune which is the only agency in the country to certify whether it was a case of Nipah virus or not.
“Till such time the report from the NIV in Pune is received it cannot be confirmed whether it was a case of Nipah virus or not,” the spokesman said.
“His body fluids have been sent to the National Institute of Virology at Pune to find out if it was a case of Nipah virus infection,” he said.
West Bengal, on Tuesday, witnessed a third suspected Nipah virus (NiV) case. The state-run Beliaghata ID Hospital admitted another patient with symptoms similar to those affected with the deadly Nipah virus.
The 20-year-old Rajesh Mondal, a resident of Domkal in Murshidabad, joins Sofikul and Ashik as a patient suffering from suspected NiV. He worked as a mason in Kerala, where he developed an unknown fever.
“He is down with fever for the past five days. Here the doctor is saying that he has cough and ulcer on his tongue,” said Mondal’s father. Initially, his family took him to Murshidabad Medical College and Hospital for treatment, but later he was referred to Beliaghata ID Hospital.
Mondal is kept secluded and a mask has been put on his mouth.
Mala Soren who had come down from Bankura for her husband who is undergoing Diarrhoea treatment in the same hospital, freaked out at the knowledge of NiV patients in ID hospital.
She said: “Is there any chance of us catching that virus since we are now staying in the same hospital.” Her naive question to a media person throws light on the little knowledge the rural people have on NiV disease.
Read More: Suspected Nipah case in Kolkata
The state director of health service (DHS), Dr Ajoy Chakraborty, said: “We are not yet sure if the suspected patients are affected with NiV. Only the medical tests can prove them NiV positive.”
The Kerala health department issued an advisory earlier this week for people travelling to the state and urged travellers to be extra cautious while visiting Kozhikode, Malappuram, Wayanad and Kannur districts.
Nipah virus, spread by fruit bats, causes communicable disease and is fatal for both animals and humans. Symptoms include fever, headache, drowsiness, respiratory illness, disorientation and confusion. Those affected by the virus can progress to coma within 24-48 hours, as per WHO.