Remembering Kerala Nurse Lini, Who Died Tending To Nipah Victims Selflessly

Posted: May 24, 2018

Nurse Lini, from Kerala, died while nursing the first cases of the deadly Nipah virus. Her selfless act wherein she rose to the call of duty, deserves our homage.

Lini Puthussery worked at the EMS Memorial Cooperative Hospital at Perambara, in rural Kozikode. She was among the three nurses who looked after the first two cases of Nipah outbreak in Kerala. After eight days of suffering, Lini died yesterday.

Thirty-one year old Lini is survived by her two sons five year old Rithul, two year old Sidharth and husband Sreejesh. Her husband worked in Baharain and flew in to see his wife but he wasn’t allowed to say goodbye for the risk of infection of the deadly disease. Her body was cremated in urgency at the electric crematorium to arrest the infection as per the medical protocol.

Grieving Sreejesh reported that she reported on duty on 16th despite fever and compromised vitality, taking a personal risk because the hospital was under staffed. Lini is the epitome of selfless service. Thousands of Keralite nurses provide invaluable support and healthcare services in India and abroad. Unable to see her family in her last moments, Lini left a heart-wrenching note for her husband.

“Sajeeshetta, am almost on the way. I don’t think I will be able to see you again. Sorry. Please take care of our children. Poor Kunju (son), please take him to the Gulf with you. Don’t be alone like our father. Please. With lots of love…”

What is the Nipah virus?

Nipah Virus or NiV is named after the place in Malaysia where the first outbreak occurred. Kampung Sungai Nipah was the site where the deadly virus was first identified in 1998.

In 2001, it caused 45 deaths in Siliguri. In 2004, several people in Bangladesh died after consuming contaminated Palm sap used in making Toddy. Once again, an outbreak in Bangladesh in 2011, caused fifty deaths. This year ten people have died in Kerala owing to Nipah virus. It is a highly contagious disease that causes death in around 70% patients.

This disease is caused by infected fruit bats and spreads when:

  • Fruit bats bite animals that humans consume.
  • Fruit bats bite animals whose body fluids like saliva, blood or urine infect animals in human contact.
  • When humans consume fruits bitten by fruit bats. Particularly toddy made from contaminated palm sap.
  • Infected fruit bats contaminating drinking water.
  • Infected humans passing it to healthy humans.

How did NiV breakout in Kerala?

In kerala ten people have succumbed to the disease already. Nearly hundred people have been quarantined. The first cases were reported from a family in Perambara, Kozilkode. Their drinking water well had dead fruit bats. Two brothers in twenties and a middle-aged woman who was seriously ill got admitted to the hospital.

Two unfortunate patients Sindhu and Sijtha had come from Mallapuram to Kozikode Medical College for treatment and came in contact with these infected people. The deadly virus slew them too. Lini was in the medical team that was looking after the two Perambara brothers.

Symptoms of Nipah fever

  • The viral attack begins as respiratory discomfort, fever vomiting and headaches with vomiting.
  • These symptoms may last up to 10-12 days.
  • The virus moves to the brain and affects it. It may cause epilepsy like convulsions, drowsiness and fainting spells.
  • A full-blown brain fever causes death.

There is no vaccine for NiV yet. The mortality rate is above 70% in infected cases.

Precautions to avoid NiV

  • Do not consume fruits bitten by animals or birds.
  • Wear masks and gloves if you visit or treat a patient.
  • Wash hands after visiting a patient.
  • Do not drink toddy. Especially from areas inhabited by fruit bats.

Lini’s sacrifice would be best honoured when we find a way to fight and control this virus. Representing the people of his state, Pinarai Vijayan, Kerala’s Chief minister, honoured the brave lady by tweeting, “Her selfless service will be remembered.”

Image Source: Lini Sajeesh/Facebook

First published here.

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