New Nipah strain less infectious, has high death rate; Kozhikode under close watchtext_fields
Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Health Minister Veena George informed the State Assembly on Wednesday that all arrangements are in place to curb the spread of Nipah virus which has infected four people in Kozhikode.
Among the four confirmed cases, two people have succumbed to the virus, while the others are under close medical attention in the district.
One of those infected with the virus was a nine-year-old boy.
A team of National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune would arrive in Kerala during the day to set up a mobile lab at Kozhikode Medical College to test for Nipah and carry out survey of bats, the state government said in the assembly today.
"A team of NIV Pune officials, besides epidemiological experts from Chennai, will arrive in Kozhikode. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has been asked to ensure the availability of monoclonal antibody medicines, which are administered to the Nipah patients," said the Minister.
"There are two epicentres of the virus in Kozhikode and the district authorities are making sure that things are kept under close scrutiny. The route map of the four positive patients will soon be prepared," she added.
Responding to a query, the Health Minister said that the virus strain seen in Kerala was the Bangladesh variant that spreads from human to human and has a high mortality rate. However, it is less infectious.
As many as 43 wards in seven village councils in the district namely Atanchery, Maruthonkara, Tiruvallur, Kuttiyadi, Kayakkodi, Villyapalli, and Kavilumpara, have been declared as "containment" zones and in these places, barring medical shops and state government revenue offices, others have been asked not to open.
The schools in these zones will remain closed and have been asked to adopt online mode of education.
Minister George said that the health authorities have, so far, identified 168 people, including 127 health professionals, who came in contact with the infected persons and have asked everyone in the district to wear masks.
The death of the first person, on August 30, was initially considered a death due to the comorbidity of liver cirrhosis, but his son, the nine-year-old boy who is already in ICU, and his 24-year-old brother-in-law are the two positive cases that were detected on Tuesday.
It was on Tuesday morning that the sample of a person, who died at Kozhikode following fever and breathlessness on Monday, first tested positive for the virus.
The present cases have been reported about 15 km from where the initial Nipah virus outbreak in southern India was first identified in Kozhikode in May 2018 and then again in 2021.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had urged people not to panic and to take precaution instead.
"Everyone should strictly follow the instructions of the health department and the police and fully cooperate with the restrictions," he had said.
Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu's Directorate of Public Health and Preventive Medicine has issued an alert in the border areas.
"We would screen passengers from Kerala at border check posts by the health team. A separate team has been deployed round the clock in six districts of Tamil Nadu that share borders with Kerala," said Dr T. S. Selvanivayagam, Director of TN Public Health and Preventive Medicine.
The six districts are The Nilgiris, Coimbatore, Tiruppur, Theni, Tenkasi and Kanyakumari.
Nipah virus infection is basically a zoonotic disease which can be transmitted from animals to humans. Besides, it can spread through contaminated food or through contact.
With agency inputs