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Nipah virus in Kerala: 11 symptomatic, 54 at high risk; Read to know more about the virus

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The number of people with Nipah virus symptoms in Kozhikode has risen to 11. And Kerala is on high alert after a 12-year-old boy died of the virus on 5th September. 

On 6th September Kerala Health Minister Veena George said that the state health department has identified and isolated 251 people who came in contact with the 12-year-old boy. 

Health department ramps up efforts

As 8 direct contacts tested negative Veena George further said to the reporters “That these eight immediate contacts tested negative is a great relief”.

She said that 11 isolated people have shown symptoms of Nipah virus who were at the Kozhikode Medical College hospital.

Nipah

Minister George said that more samples will be tested including the eight that have tested negative, which are now being taken care of at a hospital. A central team started door-to-door surveillance to identify secondary contacts with that boy. “It also visited the epicenter, house of the 12-year-old male diseased child, interacted with family members and others,” according to Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan.

Briefing on Nipah virus

Nipah, which can be spread by fruit bats, pigs, and through human-to-human contact. It was first identified during a late 1990s outbreak in Malaysia. According to a study, there is no vaccine for the virus. A person infected with NiV may have a fever, headache, cough, sore throat, difficulty breathing, and vomiting. 

Severe symptoms include drowsiness,  confusion,  disorientation, seizures, coma, and brain swelling. 

The only treatment is to take care and control the complications of the patients and make them comfortable. 

The pathogen that causes NiV encephalitis is an RNA virus of the genus Henipavirus, family Paramyxoviridae,  and which is closely related to the Hendra virus (HeV), which was isolated in Australia in 1994.

The virus has an estimated fatality rate of between 40% and 75%, according to the WHO, making it far more deadly than the coronavirus. 

WHO says in its guidelines on Nipah virus, “In infected people, it causes a range of illnesses from asymptomatic (subclinical) infection to acute respiratory illness and fatal encephalitis”.

Kerala’s COVID-19 positive cases rising

On 6th September, Kerala registered nearly 20,000 COVID-19 positive cases. While cases across the country have declined after a devastating surge earlier this year, the cases in Kerala remain the same, which has become a matter of concern.

On 5th September the Union health ministry sent a letter to Kerala chief secretary Dr. VP Joy asked the state to measure and control the spread of the Nipah virus in the state. The ministry has asked state officials to strengthen community-based and hospital-based surveillance.

Earlier Kerala government issued a management plan of Nipah virus listing the protocol which should be followed by government and private hospitals.

The Minister of health Veena George has asked all district authorities of the state to remain cautious and to keep under observation those who are affected by it. Doctors, Healthcare workers, field workers, and other staff of private hospitals will be given special training.

Also Read: Did you know what happens to your body during the 4 stages of the sleep cycle?

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