Kerala student suspected to have Nipah, govt on alert

Kochi: The Kerala government is taking precautionary measures against the possible outbreak of Nipah virus in the State after a college student in Kochi is suspected to have been infected.

According to media reports, the 23-year-old student was admitted in a hospital in Thiruvananthapuram and a report from the State Institute of Virology and Infectious Diseases in Alappuzha revealed the patient was infected with a virus having similarities with Nipah; however, a report from the National Institute of Virology in Pune is awaited for final confirmation.

Kerala Health Minister K K Shailaja is said to have briefed Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and later held meeting with top health officials and people’s representatives to review the situation.

Speaking to reporters there, isolation wards have been set up at the Kalamassery Medical College Hospital in Kochi and that about 86 people who have interacted with the student were under medical observation. A media report said the student was responding to treatment.

As he was suffering from fever, the patient had sought medical assistance at two private hospitals in Thrissur. He had come to Kochi for a training programme recently and was studying in Thodupuzha in Idukki district. 16 other students were with him and six of them, who came in direct contact with him, were under observation, and other people who had come in his contact were also under watch. The family and neighbours of the student and the college in Thodupuzha were also under observation. said Thrissur district medical officer Dr Reena.

The minister assured the Kerala government had last year successfully battled the Nipah outbreak in Kozhikode and Malappuram districts and was fully capable of dealing with the situation now; there was no need for any concern she added. Medical experts from Kozhikode have already reached Kochi and there are enough medicines and medical equipment to deal with the situation, she said. Health workers are being imparted training in case the test in Pune institute is positive and more cases are reported. Shailaja further asked social media users not to create panic among the public.

Precautionary measures are being taken by the government. A control room has been opened in Ernakulam district headquarters. A review meeting was held for health department officials and Ernakulam district authorities headed by Rajan Khobragade, Principal Secretary of Health.

Surveillance teams have been constituted to monitor the suspected Nipah cases, and a facility has been set up at Kalamassery Medical College Hospital to quarantine people with suspected Nipah symptoms.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the government was taking precautionary steps and monitoring the situation. He also further asked people not to indulge in fake campaign about the Nipah virus on social media.

On 19 May last year Nipah virus disease (NiV) outbreak was reported from Kozhikode in Malappuram district. As per state government figures 17 lives were claimed.

SYMPTOMS

Infected people initially develop influenza-like symptoms of fever, headache, myalgia, vomiting and sore throat. This can be followed by dizziness, drowsiness, altered consciousness, and neurological signs that indicate acute encephalitis. Some people can also experience atypical pneumonia and severe respiratory problems, including acute respiratory distress. Encephalitis and seizures occur in severe cases, progressing to coma within 24 to 48 hours.

NT Bureau