Kerala has been put on high alert as a 12 year old boy succumbed to Nipah virus on Sunday. This is the third time in four years that Kerala has reported the virus with a high mortality rate.
Read the report to know further.
As Kerala continues to battle COVID-19, the state also witnessed a case of the zoonotic Nipah virus. A high-level meeting of health and revenue authorities was held in Kozhikode on Sunday regarding the case. Following the meeting, State Health Minister Veena George told reporters that the source of the patient’s ailment was yet to be determined. After being taken to a private clinic at Eranjimavu on August 29, the boy was treated for fever and related symptoms. Following shifts to two more hospitals, the symptoms of the Nipah virus were finally detected at the MCH. The boy passed away in a private hospital in Pazhoor near Chathamangalam on Sept.5, Sunday. A list of about 188 people who came in contact with the boy has been prepared to control the spread of infection.
“A total of 20 of them, termed high-risk contacts, are being shifted to the Government Medical College Hospital, Kozhikode (MCH). Two of the healthcare workers — at the MCH and a private hospital — are symptomatic,” said Veena George. (quote from The Hindu)
In 2001, Siliguri in West Bengal had reported the virus for the first time in India, with 66 cases. Following this, 50 people reportedly got infected in 2015 in Bangladesh bordering district Nadia. In 2018, Kerala had reported 18 confirmed and 7 suspected cases with 16 confirmed deaths. The virus was detected in the state once again in 2019.
Experts from the National Institute of Virology, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), and the National Center for Disease Control visited several locations to conduct research. Experts from AIIMS and NIMHANS also went to the hospital to undertake the patient’s clinical study.
The Origin of the Virus
The term Nipah was derived from the name of the Malaysian village where the virus first originated in 1998-99. In the first epidemic, the virus had been initially found among domesticated pigs. Back then, nearly 300 people had been infected, with over 100 of them dying. To stop the spread of the disease, a million pigs had been culled.
Nipah virus is a zoonotic disease that can be transmitted from natural hosts, i.e., fruit bats to human beings. Transmission primarily occurs through the consumption of fruits contaminated by infected bats.
As per World Health Organization (WHO) reports, symptoms of Nipah virus include fever, headache, drowsiness, disorientation, vomiting, acute respiratory infection and encephalitis. In severe cases, the virus also causes seizures which may result in a coma.
Ensuring basic sanitation can prevent transmission of infection, like washing hands and maintaining basic hygiene, and regular washing of fruits before consumption. Consumption of fruits such as guavas, mangoes, dates and lychees should be avoided as these are often contaminated by faeces of bats.
Since its highly transmissible, contact tracing is also very important in confirmed cases.