Nipah virus: The heartbreaking story of Lini Puthussery
The fresh outbreak of the deadly Nipah virus – a fatal zoonosis – has been creating a huge stir all over India and the scare continues to worry people. The 1999 outbreak of Nipah virus caused a mild disease in pigs and had claimed about 100 human lives. Over a million pigs were euthanized to put a stop to spread of the disease (in Malaysia).
The outbreak re-entered in 2001 in Bangladesh. In the same year, there were cases of person-to-person transmission of NiV in hospital settings in India. Bangladesh and India have seen annual outbreaks since then. The outbreak has made a comeback this year with 10 deaths being reported in Kerala (India).
The death of a nurse who acquired and succumbed to the disease has been heartbreaking. The story of the daily wage nurse has become viral and also highlights the state of health and safety of nurses in India. 31 year old Lini Puthussery who was working at the Perambara hospital, was attending to patients with NiV and acquired the same.
Her body was cremated within a few hours of her death so the infection didn’t spread to the others. The saddest part is that the family could get to see her for the one last time. Lini, who survived a husband and 2 kids, had left a last note for her husband Sajish…
“Saji Chetta, I am almost on my way. I don’t think I will be able to see you. Sorry. Take care of our children properly. Our innocent child, take him to the gulf. They shouldn’t be alone like our father. Lots of love…“
Lini has two boys – seven and two years old – and from the letter it can be understood that the nurse knew about her fate and that her family wouldn’t get to be a part of her final rights. Lini was in the team which was attending the first victim of the virus and the incident points out at the poor health and safety accommodation provided to the staff at hospitals in India.