Even as twelve lost their lives in Kerala due to the rare but deadly Nipah virus (NiV), the state health department said they have been able to zero-in on a Kozhikode village, Perambra, that they believe is the epicentre of the epidemic.
Three members of a family here have fallen prey to the deadly virus, while the fourth member is battling for life in a private hospital. The family was shifting to their newly built house when their two young sons decided to clean an abandoned well in the property. The siblings entered the roughly 100-feet deep well.
However, they could not clean it properly as they felt suffocated due to lack of oxygen. They were also frightened by a large colony of bats that had nested inside it.
The state health department now feels that it has uncovered the mystery behind the epidemic outbreak. Abu, a local resident, told India Today TV the symptoms were first noticed in 26-year-old Abdul Sadiq.
Although he was hospitalised, Sadiq died in the first week of May. Following this Sadiq’s elder brother, Abdul Salih, and their relative, Mariyam (50), died at the hospital, after falling ill under similar circumstances. Abu said the family was gradually shifting from their present rented accommodation to their new house. Sadiq and Salih decided to clean the abandoned well in the last week of April.
On Monday, a forest department team managed to catch a few bats from the well and sent their samples for detailed examination. According to state health minister K K Shailaja Teacher, out of the 18 samples that have been sent for testing, 12 have been found Nipah positive. Ten of these patients have already died.
Half of the homes in the area are empty today after news spread about the village being the epicentre of the outbreak. Among the deceased is 28-year-old Lini who was a nurse at a primary health centre in Perambra, Kozhikode. She was reportedly infected while attending to patients.
In a touching letter written to her husband during the course of treatment, Lini asked him to take good care of their two toddlers. Linis body was quickly cremated at the electric crematorium in Kozhikode to prevent any further spread of the infection.