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Central team arrives in Kerala as Nipah virus outbreak claims 3 lives

A high-powered Central Team arrived in Kerala to take stock of the situation of the current  Nipah outbreak, which has claimed three lives in Kozhikode district, Kerala.

In a message earlier, the state health minister, Dr Veena George, said that the Nipah virus has been confirmed in three people in the state, according to the Pune Virology Institute.

So far, a 9-year-old who is being treated in a private hospital in Kozhikode, a 25-year-old, and a 40-year-old who were the latest to succumb to the viral infection, in addition to the 47-year-old who died earlier, are suspected to have died from the disease.

The minister further informed that at least 700 people have been traced, of whom 76 fall into the high-risk category.

Nipah virus illness is a new public health concern in Southeast Asia, primarily affecting Pteropus fruit bats. Initially detected in Malaysia in 1998, it has since spread across India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, and Singapore. Transmission can occur through contact with infected animals, contaminated food, or humans. Previous outbreaks have had a cyclical pattern, peaking in winter and spring, and a case fatality rate ranging from 40% to 100%.

According to health ministry sources, following the confirmation of Nipah, neighbouring districts, including Kannur, Wayanad, and Malappuram have also been put on high alert. With the collaboration of ICMR, monoclonal antibodies have been secured at a private hospital in the state where patients are being treated.

Commenting on the situation, Dr George said that along with contact tracing, efforts are being undertaken to make N95 masks available for the people, and there is no need to panic.

She further stated that helplines in the Nipah Control Room ( 0495 2383101, 0495 2384100, 0495 2383100, 0495 2384101, and 0495 2386100) have started functioning.

It may be recalled that in 2018, an epidemic was recorded in the Kozhikode district and another in the Kochi district in the state, most likely caused by fruit bats also called flying foxes, while a person lost their life in Kozhikode district in 2021 due to a Nipah virus infection.

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