The state director of health service (DHS), Dr Ajoy Chakraborty, said: "We are not yet sure if the suspected patients are affected with NiV".
A recent outbreak in India of Nipah virus encephalitis, an often-lethal viral disease with no cure, has set off worldwide alarms over the virus's potential to become the next threat to global health. There is no vaccine for the virus. That was the beginning of a panic outbreak in Kerala.
However, the disease itself was contained quickly before it could become an outbreak. "All districts are instructed to enhance their surveillance for acute encephalitis through Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) and to carefully review any unusual pattern", says the guidelines issued on May 23.
These cases take the total number of confirmed infected cases to 17, of which 15 have died.
There is relief in Kerala that the infection did not spread into an outbreak and is now more or less under control.
The Gulf state has also banned imports of live animals from South Africa, based on a notification from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) of the registration of Rift Valley Fever disease, the ministry said. Doctors have therefore also recommended people to avoid eating fallen fruit or fruits with any signs of bites. Outbreaks have tended to fizzle out after four or five chains of transmission in humans. It is due to this reason that the Kerala Government had to strictly warn public not to indulge in any activities that can harm the animal.
The virus is transmitted by infected pigs or by fruit bats through their urine, faeces or saliva.
Prasad died on May 25 and he was cremated the next day as a safety measure against possible spread of infection, if any.