Kerala on high alert after Nipah scare

Allan Jacob (Senior Editor)/Kochi Filed on June 3, 2019 | Last updated on June 4, 2019 at 01.02 pm
Kerala on high alert after Nipah scare

(AFP file photo)

Eighty-three people are being monitored for symptoms.

There is concern but no panic in Kerala yet after a youth admitted to a hospital in Ernakulam district tested positive for the deadly Nipah virus on Monday.

State health authorities maintained it was a “suspected” case after the National Institute of Virology Allepey said so in as many terms, but were preparing a war plan to contain the spread of the virus.

State authorities took charge of the situation after the youth exhibited Nipah-like symptoms that included high fever for 10 straight days.

They sent samples for testing to two National Virology Labs. One came out positive. The second report of confirmation is awaited but Kerala Health Minister K.K. Shylaja said she wasn’t jumping to conclusions.

“A young man was admitted to a private hospital in Ernakulam with persistent high fever for 10 days. We sent two samples to labs in Alleppey and Pune. One lab said they suspected Nipah. We are not certain and will await the second test results,” she said here.

From investigations, it has emerged that the 23-year-old youth had travelled with 22 others from Idukki to work as interns at a company in Trichur. The youth may have contracted the virus there, said reports that could not be verified by Khaleej Times.

Eighty-three people are being monitored for symptoms.

An alert has been sounded across most of the southern districts. The roads seemed surprisingly quiet as word of the new Nipah case spread. Kerala successfully contained a Nipah outbreak in the northern Kannur and Kozhikode districts last year which claimed 17 lives and the episode is still fresh on people’s minds.

Business establishments appeared downcast during the Eid holiday and school-reopening season as the state geared up to tackle the situation.

The situation appears grim as there is no vaccine to combat the virus spread by fruit bats. The only way to prevent others from contracting it is through good hygiene and a fool-proof quarantine mechanism. Finding other cases linked to the patient is also vital in the fight back against the outbreak.

Meanwhile, Kerala Health Minister Shylaja is taking no chances and is calling in experts from the both the central and state governments. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is monitoring the situation.

During the last outbreak, the UAE had temporarily barred the import of fruits and vegetables from Kerala. People in the state have been advised to get admitted to government hospitals if they exhibit symptoms.

Meanwhile, Thrissur Medical Health Officer Dr K.J. Reena, said the  youth’s infection had fortunately not spread to his respiratory system. He had earlier consulted two private hospitals and when his fever did not subside, the state health authority stepped in.

“Our disease monitoring system is on heightened alert,” she said. An isolation ward has been opened at the government hospital to handle more cases.


Allan Jacob

A news junkie with an abiding interest in foreign affairs. I'm a keen follower and learner of the media and how it will pan out in the future when the common man and woman will themselves be journalists and not just sources of information. Lead a team of bright journalists who are driving the change and have their feet on the ground.

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