NIV teams to arrive in Kerala following Nipah confirmation

Thiruvananthapuram: Teams from 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.

The move comes in the wake of Nipah infection being confirmed in four persons in Kozhikode district of the state. Responding to a query regarding the Nipah infection in the assembly, State Health Minister Veena George said that the virus strain seen in Kerala was the Bangladesh variant that spreads from human to human and has a high mortality rate, though it is less infectious. George further said that besides the teams from NIV, Pune, a group of epidemiologists would reach Kerala today from Chennai to carry out a survey. Additionally, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has agreed to fly down the monoclonal antibodies that are required to treat Nipah patients, she told the House. The minister was responding to a query by CPI MLA P Balachandran during the Question-Answer hour regarding the measures taken to deal with the Nipah virus which has killed two and infected two others in Kozhikode. George said surveillance, contact tracing, categorising them into low and high risk, setting up isolation facilities for them, demarcating containment zones and procuring medicines from ICMR for those infected, were some of the numerous steps taken by the Health department to prevent spread of the brain damaging virus.

Following the outbreak of Nipah virus in Kerala, the Directorate of Public Health and Preventive Medicine has instructed to strengthen the testing and security in Tamil Nadu – Kerala borders.

The hospitals were asked to stay alert with fever cases, and acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) cases in the state. Dr TS Selvavinayagam, Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine said, “In view of two Nipah virus cases reported from Kerala, 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 – The Nilgiris, Coimbatore, Tiruppur, Theni, Tenkasi, and Kanyakumari with immediate effect.”