Dr AS Anoop Kumar(Critical care specialist) noticed strange symptoms in one of the patients(Saliah) with signs of encephalitis during his usual round in the wards in the evening of May 17.
In patients with acute encephalitis, their blood pressure and heartbeat usually go down but in Saliah’s case his blood pressure was rising and pulse rate was also swinging alarmingly.
He immediately spoke with two of his young colleagues, Dr Ajith K Gopan and Dr Ganga Prasad, who agreed they were dealing with a new kind of symptoms likely triggered by an unknown virus.
“His clinical symptoms were not typical of the usual type of encephalitis. We started observing him closely. When he started showing strange symptoms we summoned one of his attendants and he told us his brother died with similar symptoms two days ago,” Dr Anoop Kumar recalled.
Saliah died later in the night and the doctors’ team contacted Dr G Arun Kumar of the Manipal Centre for Viral Research and rushed his blood and fluid samples to him.
Days later, his father, aunt and younger brother died of the same infection. Nurse Lini who was caring for them also succumbed to the infection.
The next day the report confirmed the doctors’ worst fear and they alerted the state health officials. They also advised the Kozhikode Medical College Hospital to conduct a pathological autopsy and dispose of the body with utmost caution.
It was this presence of mind in observing the symptoms that made them to send the sample for the viral studies and also in alerting the government thereafter.
Dr Jayakrishnan C Nambiar(Neurologist) is also one of the first doctor who suspected it to be Nipah virus infection. It really need lots of observation to think of something as wild as Nipah infection which hardly anyone even heard of.
Health officials said early detection contained the damage well and the state really owed this to the quick response of three doctors of the hospital.
Let’s hail the doctors : Dr AS Anoop Kumar, Dr Ajith K Gopan, Dr Ganga Prasad, Dr Jayakrishnan C Nambiar and Manipal’s Dr Arun Kumar, who is camping in Kozhikode since the outbreak.
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