Kerala Nipah outbreak: Efforts on to trace source of infection
Hectic efforts are on to trace the source of Nipah infection in north Kerala’s Kozhikode which claimed the life of a 12-year-old boy on Sunday even as more samples of quarantined people were sent to the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune for tests.
Three people, including the boy’s mother, were shifted to Nipah ward in Kozhikode medical college hospitals after they showed symptoms of the infection. Two of them are health workers. Twenty primary contacts and 158 secondary contacts of the deceased were quarantined soon after Nipah was confirmed. The boy’s route map was also released. High alert has been sounded in two neighbouring districts of Kannur and Malappuram.
State health minister Veena George said on Monday that the coming week is crucial for the state and expressed confidence that the latest outbreak will be localised and contained like that of 2018.
“We have traced all contacts of the boy and quarantined. The next week is crucial for us. We have to keep utmost vigil,” said the minister, adding the health department will also look at some of the earlier deaths if they had similar symptoms.
“Different teams are working to find out the source of infection. If needed, more experts will be deployed. Since the whole state is following strict physical distancing and masking, chances of high transmission are low. But we can’t lower our guard,” she said.
The team from the National Centre for Disease Control, which is camping in the city, visited the deceased boy’s house in Chathamangalam on Sunday. The state animal husbandry department has also started examining domestic animals and pets in the area. The area within 3km radius of the deceased’s house has been sealed. The NIV is planning to open a lab on the premises of the medical college hospital to facilitate speedy testing. The health department is also planning to start a mobile application to monitor the Nipah situation.
Kozhikode has reported Nipah infection for the second time in three years. In 2018, it claimed 17 lives in the district. Two persons also survived the infection.