Kerala: Nipah victim's 188 contacts identified; 2 health workers symptomatic
Kerala is witnessing a return of the deadly Nipah virus at a time when the state is grappling with a rising tally of COVID-19 infections. A 12-year-old boy who was hospitalized with symptoms of the Nipah infection died Sunday morning in Kozhikode. Thus far, authorities have identified 188 contacts of the victim, out of whom, two healthcare workers are showing symptoms of the disease.
Boy hospitalized on September 1; tested positive for Nipah yesterday
The boy had been admitted to a private hospital in Kozhikode with encephalitis and myocarditis on September 1. As the symptoms pointed to Nipah, three sets of blood samples were sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune. The samples were found to be positive late Saturday, shortly before the boy died at 4:45 am on Sunday.
20 high-risk contacts under observation; 2 health workers show symptoms
The list of contacts identified has touched 188 so far. Among them, 20 have been said to be high-risk primary contacts, including two healthcare workers who are already showing symptoms of the disease, Kozhikode district medical officer V Jayasree said. The high-risk contacts will continue to be observed at a new isolation ward at the Kozhikode Medical College.
Kerala government holds high-level meeting
Earlier Sunday, Health Minister Veena George said those in the primary contact list of the deceased do not show any symptoms, but they are being monitored. The Kerala government had also held a high-level meeting of health officials late Saturday night. Tourism Minister PA Muhammad Riyas assured, "An action plan has been prepared, we have the experience of 2018...There's no cause for uncertainty."
Centre advised immediate public health measures
The Centre rushed a team of the National Centre for Disease Control to the state Sunday. The team will provide technical support to the state. The Centre has also advised some public health measures such as active case search in families, villages, and areas of similar topography. It has also advised active contact tracing, quarantining of suspects, and the collection of samples for testing.
What is Nipah virus?
Nipah virus (NiV), a zoonotic virus, was first detected in Malaysia in 1998. It is transmitted to humans from animals such as bats and pigs. While it has a high fatality rate of 75%, there is no known treatment or vaccine. After a person gets infected, it takes five to 14 days for symptoms to appear. Patients complain of fever, nausea, headaches, and fainting.