Kozhikode/New Delhi : After three lives lost to Nipah virus (NiV) and eight battling the disease in Kerala’s Kozhikode district, both the state and the Central governments on Monday took comprehensive measures to contain the outbreak of the rare virus. Doctors say it is just another viral infection and there is nothing to panic.
“All the periphery hospitals of the Kozhikode Medical College Hospital are fully equipped to tackle the fever. All those who have fever need not rush to the medical college. At the moment, eight patients are undergoing treatment. Their samples have been sent to Pune and results are awaited,” said Kerala Health Minister K.K. Shailaja.
Shailaja said all arrangements are in place, things are under control and there is no need to panic. The state government has sanctioned an emergency fund of Rs 20 lakh to the Kozhikode Medical College to tackle the present fever outbreak.
Nipah virus, spread by fruit bats that infects both animals and humans, has claimed the lives of two brothers and their aunt in Perambara of Kozhikode district within a few weeks, and now eight more people are under close observation.
State health officials visited the victims’ house and sealed the unused well that had lots of bats, said Shailaja and added that people are being educated to ensure that they do not eat any fruits that fall down from trees.
To strengthen Kerala government’s fight against the virus, the Central government on Monday assured the state of all support and sent a multi-disciplinary Central team from the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to the district.
“We are closely monitoring the situation. I have also dispatched a Central team to assist the state government and initiate required steps,” Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare J.P. Nadda said in a statement from Geneva.
Nadda said he had a talk with Union Minister of State for Tourism Alphons Kannathanam and Kerala Health Minister Shailaja. Union Health Secretary Preeti Sudan also spoke to the Kerala Principal Health Secretary and reviewed the situation.
In a tweet late on Sunday, Nadda said: “Reviewed the situation of deaths related to Nipah virus in Kerala with Secretary Health. I have directed Director NCDC to visit the district and initiate required steps as warranted by the protocol for the disease in consultation with state government.”
The Central team includes Sujeet K. Singh, Director, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC); S.K. Jain, Head Epidemiology, NCDC; P. Ravindran, Director, Emergency Medical Relief (EMR); and Naveen Gupta, Head Zoonosis, NCDC, along with two clinicians and one expert from the Ministry of Animal Husbandry.
Atul Gogia, Senior Consultant, Department of Medicine, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, said: “Nipah virus is just another viral infection which affects the respiratory and central nervous systems with symptoms like drowsiness. Like most other viral infections, Nipah, too, has no treatment and can only be managed through intensive supportive care.”
Gogia said the virus is spread by fruit bats, which are usually found in forests, but due to urbanisation, sometimes it is found even in cities.
While he did not rule out the possibility of an infected person travelling to other parts of the country and spreading the disease, he said there is no threat to other parts of the country including north India and Delhi and there is no need to panic.
The senior doctor, however, said people living in areas inhabited by bats or wildlife animals should be alert as there can be other infections that can afflict them.
Transmission of NiV takes place through direct contact with infected bats, pigs or from other NiV-infected persons.