Thiruvananthapuram: The Centre rushed a six-member team to Kerala on Tuesday after a college student was infected with the Nipah virus that has claimed 17 lives in the State in May last year.
The Union health ministry said the six-member team, which includes an epidemiologist, has been sent to the State to conduct contact tracing for the early detection of infected persons and a review of isolation facilities.
Union health minister Harsh Vardhan also spoke to State health minister KK Shailaja to discuss the current situation and assured all support from the Centre.
A 23-year-old college student here has been confirmed to be infected with the Nipah virus while 86 others are under medical observation, Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja has said earlier in the day.
The results of blood samples of the student, which were tested at the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune, have confirmed Nipah, she said. The result came this morning, she added.
Earlier, blood samples examined at two virology institutes–Manipal Institute of Virology and Kerala Institute of Virology and Infectious Diseases–had indicated Nipah.
Shailaja said the condition of the student, who is being treated at a private hospital here, is stable and he was not put under any support system like a ventilator.
“Good care is being given to the patient. The patient sometimes becomes restless due to fever…We expect a good result,” she said.
The minister further said a list of 86 people who have interacted with the student has been prepared and they were under medical observation.
Out of the 86, two are suffering from fever and one has been shifted to the isolation ward set up at the Kalamassery Medical College Hospital here, she added.
Two nurses, who had initially attended to the patient, complained of sore throat and fever and they are also under the observation of the health department.
The Minister urged people not to panic and take precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the disease.
“We have confidence that we can face it. We have faced it in Kozhikode last year and contained it,” she said trying to instil confidence among people.
Appealing to social media users not to spread panic among the public, she said stringent action would be taken against those indulging in such acts.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has given an assurance that an anti-NiV drug developed in Australia would be provided to the State to deal with the disease, she noted.
Fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are the natural host of the Nipah virus.
Nipah virus can be transmitted to humans from animals (such as bats or pigs), or contaminated foods and can also be transmitted directly from human-to-human.
On 19 May 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.
Symptoms 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.