The nurse, with two young children at home and a husband working overseas, scrawled the words in blue pen as she lay dying in an Indian hospital isolation ward, sick with a rare and deadly virus. "I think I am almost on my way. I may not be able to see you again. Sorry," Lini Puthusheri wrote her husband in a tangle of English and Malayalam, the main language of the south Indian state of Kerala. "Take care of our children," wrote Puthusheri, who was infected with Nipah virus while caring for sick patients. She signed it "Lots of love." She died Monday. At least 10 people have died of Nipah since an outbreak began earlier this month in Kerala, health officials say, and two more people are in critical condition. There is no vaccine for the virus, which can cause raging fevers, convulsions and vomiting, and kills up to 75% of people who come down with it. The only treatment is supportive care to keep patients comfortable, the AP reports.
At least eight people who have had contact with the sick are being kept in isolation, in their homes, so their conditions can be monitored, officials say. Nipah can be spread by fruit bats, pigs and through human-to-human contact. Officials suspect the Kerala outbreak may have begun with bats. Puthusheri treated one of the first Nipah patients, Mohammed Sadik, who was admitted with a fever to the hospital in the small town of Perambra. "She was very much disturbed by the death of Sadik," her husband, Sajeesh, told The Hindu newspaper. "She developed fever a day or two after he passed away." Fear of the disease has swept Kerala, even as officials insist the situation is under control. Some ambulance drivers refused to take the nurse's body to be cremated, but police eventually helped have the body transported. Nipah was first identified during a late 1990s outbreak in Malaysia. Later outbreaks have occurred in Bangladesh and India.
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