Nipah Fear Grips Kerala After Student Tests Positive For Deadly Virus

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Kochi: The Kerala government on Tuesday said a college student in Kochi has been tested positive for the deadly Nipah virus and has been shifted to the isolation ward in Kerala's Ernakulam.

The National Institute of Virology in Pune confirmed the presence of the virus in the 23-year-old engineering graduate who complained of fever and headaches.

Health Minister K K Shailaja on Monday said a list of 86 people who have interacted with the student has been prepared and they were under medical observation. The Kerala Health department has initiated precautionary measures to deal with the possible outbreak of Nipah virus.

Instilling confidence among the people, the minister had said there was no need for any concern and the government, which successfully battled the Nipah outbreak in Kozhikode and Malappuram districts last year, was fully capable of dealing with the situation. The minister appealed to social media users not to create panic among the public.

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.

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

A brief history about the outbreak of Nipah:

  • On May 19, 2018, Nipah virus disease (NiV) outbreak was reported from Kozhikode in Malappuram district.
  • As per state government figures, the Nipah virus had claimed 17 lives -- 14 in Kozhikode and three in neighbouring Malappuram in May last year.
  • According to the WHO, Nipah virus is a newly emerging disease that can be transmitted from its reservoir (natural wildlife host), the flying foxes (fruit bats), to both animals and humans.
  • It takes its name from Sungai Nipah, a village in Malaysia where it was first identified.
  • Human infection can range from asymptomatic infection, acute respiratory infection (mild, severe), and fatal encephalitis. 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.
  • Last year, the WHO had said, "In the outbreak in Kerala, we are seeing patients with encephalitis, myocarditis and acute respiratory infection."

Also Read: Kerala To Honour 76 Medical Professionals For Nipah Service

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