NEW DELHI: A 23-year-old man admitted in a private hospital in Kerala’s Ernakulam has been tested positive for the deadly Nipah virus, which killed 17 people last year. The National Institute of Virology, which tested the man’s blood samples, confirmed the presence of the virus. The Kerala government has asked people not to panic. The 23-year-old studied in a college in Thodupuzha in Idukki and had stayed in Thrissur recently. According to Thrissur district medical officer, the student was in Thrissur only for four days and had been suffering from fever. Health officials have started inspecting all the areas where the student visited over the last few days.
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- Four more people, including two nurses, are down with fever. Two of them had come in contact with the 23-year-old man. Over 80 people, among them 22 students, were put under surveillance on Monday.
- The Kerala government said people should not panic as it had put into place precautionary measures even before the virus was confirmed.
- Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said he is in touch with the Kerala Health Minister. “The centre will send monoclonal antibody (medicines) to Kerala. Everything that needs to be done in a scientific manner has been initiated. Nothing to panic,” Harsh Vardhan said. He said the wildlife department has been told to catch bats to test presence of the virus.
- Nipah virus is transmitted from animals to humans and then spreads through people to people contact. It is associated with fatal encephalitis and respiratory illness. In initial stages, it causes fever, headache, muscle pain, dizziness and nausea. There is no known vaccine against the virus.
- The Kerala government on Monday said the situation is under control. As precautionary measures, isolation wards have been ordered in three districts – Ernakulam, Thrissur and Kozhikode. “We are prepared with all precautionary measures, especially because we have trained staff from the last outbreak in 2018,” Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja said on Monday.
- Doctors said of 52 people who were under observation on Monday after they came in contact with the confirmed Nipah patient, 11 students had travelled with him to Thrissur for internship.
- “We have started tracing all the people who have come in contact with this youth to ensure they monitored, after they are familiarised with the precautionary measures. There is no reason to panic,” said the minister, before leaving for Ernaculum to survey the situation.
- Multi-disciplinary teams – comprising members from the Health Ministry, animal husbandry department, National Centre for Disease Control, AIIMS, Safdarjung Hospital and the Indian Council of Medical Research – were sent to assist the Kerala government after the outbreak.
- According to the World Health Organisation, 18 Nipah cases were reported in Kerala last year; 17 of them died. The first death was reported on May 19, 2018. Since then, more than 2,600 contacts were identified and followed up with during the outbreak.
- The last known outbreak in the subcontinent before Kerala last year was in 2004 in Bangladesh. The virus was first identified among pigs in Kampung Sungai Nipah in Malaysia in 1998.