23-year-old suspected to be down with Nipah, alert sounded in Kerala
A 23-year-old man in Kerala’s Ernakulam district has been tested positive for the deadly brain-damaging Nipah disease in an initial test, the state’s health minister KK Shailaja said on Monday, prompting the government to open fever clinics and isolation wards in three cities.
State health minister KK Shailaja admitted that the initial test result from the Kerala State Institute of Virology and Infectious Diseases in Alleppey showed the man was positive for Nipah. Hectic efforts are on to contain a secondary outbreak, she said.
The health minister will camp in Kochi to co-coordinate measures to contain the viral outbreak.
The state government has opened fever clinics and isolation wards in three medical colleges in Kozhikode, Thrissur and Ernakulam. Doctors, who treated Nipah patients in Kozhikode last year, have been directed to move to Kochi. Help has also been sought from experts at the virology institute in Manipal.
People, who interacted with the man for the last two weeks, have been asked to appear for screening.
Thrissur’s district medical officer KG Reena said a list of 50 people has been made and that they will be under observation. Medical professionals, who treated him, have also been asked to be vigilant.
Six people, who were in contact with the patient, have already been quarantined as the government opened an emergency control room in Ernakulam.
The man was admitted to a private hospital after he complained of persistent fever and headache for ten days. He was then kept isolation ward in the hospital and his blood samples were sent to two virology institutes for tests—Manipal Virology Institute and Kerala State Institute of Virology and Infectious Diseases.
It is suspected that man contacted the deadly disease from his hostel in Thodupuzha in Idukki district. He was admitted to a private hospital after he complained of persistent fever and headache for ten days. The patient was then kept in an isolation ward in the hospital.
Centre will rush an experts team to Kerala as the state government assured people that there was nothing to worry about and advised people to take precautions.
The virus that causes high fever, headache and coma in extreme cases is spread by fruit bats. Body fluids can cause human-to-human transmission of Nipah, which has a mortality rate of 70% and has no vaccine.
A Nipah outbreak in May last year had claimed 17 lives, including that of a nurse who treated one of the patients.
A senior health official said if it spreads in Kochi it will be difficult to contain. Last year, the outbreak was localised and contained within two weeks.
What is Nipah virus?