Nipah virus: Kerala records 5th confirmed case, public movement suspended

  oliver oliver   6899   14 Sep, 2023 

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The Nipah virus was first identified in 1999 during an outbreak of illness among pig farmers and others in close contact with the animals in Malaysia and Singapore. A 24-year-old healthcare worker from Kerala’s Kozhikode district tested positive for the Nipah virus, taking the total number of people suffering from the disease to five. Following the rise in cases, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan convened a meeting and asked the Kozhikode district collector to take immediate action to minimize overcrowding in public places. All public events have been suspended until September 24 as part of preventive actions. Schools, offices and public transport on Wednesday were shut in a race to stop the spread of the rare and deadly virus, which has killed two people. Two adults and a child were still infected in hospital, and more than 700 people were being tested for the virus, spread via contact with the bodily fluids of infected bats, pigs or people, a state health official said. The state government on Wednesday evening said at least 706 people, including 153 health workers, were undergoing tests to check the spread of the virus. Results were awaited. “More people could be tested …Isolation facilities will be provided,” Pinarayi Vijayan, chief minister of Kerala, had said in a statement. He asked people to avoid public gatherings in the Kozhikode district for the next 10 days. Two infected people have died since Aug. 30 in Kerala’s fourth outbreak of the virus since 2018, forcing authorities to declare containment zones in at least eight Kozhikode villages. “We are focusing on tracing contacts of infected persons early and isolating anyone with symptoms,” state Health Minister Veena George told reporters. She said the virus detected in Kerala was the same as one found earlier in Bangladesh, a strain that spreads from human to human with a high mortality rate but has a history of being less infectious. “Public movement has been restricted in parts of the state to contain the medical crisis,” she said, adding that state epidemiologists were using antivirals and monoclonal antibodies to treat three people infected, including a medical worker. The Nipah virus was first identified in 1999 during an outbreak of illness among pig farmers and others in close contact with the animals in Malaysia and Singapore. Outbreaks are sporadic and previous infections in South Asia have occurred when people drank date palm sap contaminated with bat excreta. The first victim’s native village, Maruthonkara, is situated near a 300-acre forest that is home to several bat species. During the 2018 Nipah outbreak, fruit bats from the same area tested positive for the virus. In Kerala’s first Nipah outbreak, 21 of the 23 people infected died. Outbreaks in 2019 and 2021 killed two people. Neighbouring Tamil Nadu state announced that travellers coming from Kerala would be subjected to medical tests and those with flu symptoms would be isolated.

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