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Nipah virus cases a ‘localised occurrence’, not an outbreak: Health ministry

There is no specific treatment for Nipah Viral Infection and patients are usually given symptomatic care.

india Updated: May 22, 2018 19:37 IST
Rhythma Kaul
Rhythma Kaul
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Nipah virus,Nipah outbreak,Nipah virus outbreak
Hospital staff wears safety masks as a precautionary measure at the Kozhikode Medical College after the 'Nipah' virus outbreak, in Kozhikode.(PTI Photo)

Following 12 cases of Nipah Viral Infection (NiV) being confirmed in Kerala, Union health minister JP Nadda said NiV cases in the state are a “localised occurrence” restricted to the area and cannot be termed an outbreak

Isolation wards have been opened in many hospitals in Kozhikode to keep the suspected cases under observation and put those who show symptoms on treatment. There is no specific treatment for NiV and patients are usually given symptomatic care. Isolating patients and suspected cases is crucial to prevent the spread,” said a senior health ministry official.

The Centre has sent a team comprising experts from Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the animal husbandry department and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences to investigate the cause and contain the spread of the infection.

Enhanced active fever surveillance in the affected community and tracing close contacts of the people infected with NiV, including their relatives, friends and healthcare workers who treated them, is the mainstay of controlling the spread of the deadly infection.

More than 60 samples have been collected and sent for examination to National Institute of Virology in Pune. Seven people with symptoms of fever have been admitted in Baby Memorial Hospital and in the Govt. Medical College at Kozhikode and two at the Amrutha Medical College, Ernakulum.

The team visited homes in Perambra town in Kozhikode district from where the three initial deaths were reported. “Many bats were found to be housed in the well from where the family that lost three people to the infection was drawing water. Some bats were caught and sent for lab examination to confirm whether they were the cause of the disease or not,” said a statement by the health ministry.

NCDC also has a unit active in Kozhikode that, along with the team from the Centre, is helping the state health department to assess risk and manage disease.

The team has advised hospitals to follow intracranial pressure guidelines to treat the rise in pressure in the brain as a result of encephalitis (swelling in the membrane surrounding the brain), which is one of the complications in NiV. All healthcare workers treating and collecting samples have been given personal protective equipment and hospitals have been asked to follow standard infection-control practices.

More ventilators are being provided to critical patients needing ventilator support . The health ministry is also coordinating with the animal husbandry department to enhance surveillance for unusual illness and deaths in animals.

“Appropriate steps to contain this virus have been taken among domestic animals such as pigs. Since all the contacts are under observation and steps to avoid exposure through animal vectors have been taken, there is no reason for people to panic. Do not believe in rumours posted on social media and do not spread panic,” said a statement from Nadda.

First Published: May 22, 2018 19:35 IST