HomeWorldNipah Virus Outbreak in Kerala: Concerns Grow as Contact List Expands

Nipah Virus Outbreak in Kerala: Concerns Grow as Contact List Expands

As the Nipah virus outbreak in Kerala intensifies, concerns are mounting due to the growing list of individuals who have come into contact with infected patients. The state has now reported five positive cases, with a 24-year-old health worker being the latest to test positive.

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The Kerala government has taken immediate steps to curb the virus’s spread by declaring containment zones and imposing restrictions. Of particular concern is the extensive list of contacts, which includes approximately 700 individuals. Health Minister Veena George has highlighted that among these contacts, about 77 individuals fall into the high-risk category.

Here are the latest updates on the Nipah outbreak in Kerala:

•Containment Measures: High-risk Nipah patients have been advised to stay inside their homes. The routes taken by the two deceased Nipah patients have been made public to prevent people from using those routes.

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Restrictions in Kozhikode: Restrictions have been imposed in Kozhikode, including a ban on large gatherings at festivals and functions.

•Containment Zones: Fifty-eight wards across nine panchayats in Vadakara taluk of Kozhikode district have been designated as containment zones. These areas have restricted movement, allowing only essential services to operate from 7 am to 5 pm. Pharmacies and health centers are exempt from time restrictions. Buses and vehicles passing through containment zones on national highways are not allowed to stop within the affected areas.

Treatment for a Child: A nine-year-old boy in Kozhikode has been infected with Nipah, and the government has ordered monoclonal antibodies from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to treat the child. Although there is no clinical evidence that these antibodies are effective against Nipah, they are the only available treatment. The boy is currently on ventilator support.

Contact List: Approximately 700 people have come into contact with Nipah patients, with 76 of them classified as high risk. The health minister reports that all of them are currently in stable condition.

Regional Vulnerability: While this outbreak occurred in Kozhikode, Minister Veena George stressed that the entire state of Kerala is prone to such infections, as indicated by studies conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and ICMR.

Nipah Virus Strain: The Nipah strain identified in Kerala this time is the Bangladesh variant, which is less infectious but has a high mortality rate. This strain can spread from human to human.

•Nipah Virus: Nipah is a zoonotic virus that can be transmitted from infected animals or contaminated food to humans. It can then spread from one infected person to another. Symptoms include fever, headache, cough, difficulty in breathing, and vomiting, which can progress to swelling of the brain and brain death in severe cases.

•Previous Outbreaks: Kerala has experienced Nipah outbreaks in the past, with a significant outbreak in 2018 resulting in 17 out of 18 patients losing their lives. Isolated cases were also reported in 2019 and 2021.

•Alert in Karnataka: The Nipah outbreak in Kerala has put the Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka on high alert. The health department has instructed the police to set up checkposts at border points to inspect goods vehicles entering the district. Police have been directed to check fruits coming from Kerala to prevent potential transmission of the virus.

The Nipah outbreak remains a critical concern in the region, with authorities working diligently to contain its spread and protect public health.

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