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Death toll from Nipah virus rises to 16 in India’s Kerala

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NEW DELHI — The death toll in Nipah virus outbreak in India’s Kerala state has risen to 16, with the death of two more persons in southern state, officials said Thursday.

“A 56-year-old man and a 28-year-old youth died late Wednesday night at Kozhikode Medical College Hospital in the state’s Kozhikode district, the epicenter of the Nipah virus outbreak,” a senior health official said.

Two more persons, confirmed of having contracted the virus are being treated at KMCH, he said.

Apart from the 16 deaths in Kerala’s Kozhikode and Mallapuram districts, 94 people have been quarantined in their homes while 17 others are under treatment in hospitals. “All steps to prevent the spread of the virus have been taken,” state Health Minister K K Shailaja said.

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Besides, 1,353 people who had been in contact with the affected persons before the confirmation of the disease, are under observation, the official said.

The outbreak of the Nipah virus infection, a newly emerging zoonosis that causes severe disease in both animals and humans, is suspected to be from an unused well in Perambra which was infested with bats.

The natural host of the virus is believed to be fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family, Pteropus genus.

Health officials have identified the bat-infested well in the house in Kozhikode district as the likely epicenter of the outbreak of Nipah virus in this country.

This is the third outbreak of Nipah virus in India. Two other outbreaks of the virus were reported in 2001 and 2007, respectively, in eastern state of West Bengal that shares its border with Bangladesh, claiming 50 lives.

Agencies

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Diabetes drug might ease heart failure risk

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A new research has showed that the diabetes drug Farxiga might do double-duty for patients, helping to ward off another killer, heart failure.

According to the findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine to coincide with their presentation at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association in Chicago, Type 2 diabetics who took Farxiga saw their odds of hospitalization for heart failure drop by 27 percent compared to those who took a placebo.

Farxiga is a type of drug called a SGLT2 inhibitor. The compound is called dapagliflozin.

The study included more than 17,000 type 2 diabetes patients aged 40 and older. Nearly 7,000 had heart disease and more than 10,000 had numerous risk factors for heart disease, Wiviott’s group said.

Patients were randomly assigned to take a dummy placebo pill or 10 milligrams of Farxiga each day.

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“When it comes to helping our patients control and manage blood glucose, the ‘how’ appears to be as important [as] the ‘how much,” said study author Dr Stephen Wiviott, a cardiovascular medicine specialist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

“When choosing a therapy, trial results like these can help us make an informed decision about what treatments are not only safe and effective for lowering blood glucose but can also reduce risk of heart and kidney complications,” Wiviott said in a hospital news release.

Taking the drug did not reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular-related death, the research team noted. However, patients who took the drug did see healthy declines in their blood sugar levels, plus an added bonus: a 27 percent decrease in their risk of hospitalization for heart failure.

Their risk of kidney failure and death from kidney failure also fell, researchers noted.

Two other recent studies of this class of drugs show that they “robustly and consistently improve heart and kidney outcomes in a broad population of patients with diabetes,” Wiviott noted.

With Inputs from HealthDay

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