Nipah virus resurfaces in Kerala
Nipah virus outbreak returns to Kerala
Deadly outbreak returns
A new outbreak of the deadly Nipah virus has emerged in the Indian state of Kerala, marking the fourth occurrence since 2018. Health authorities have confirmed two deaths out of four people infected. Kerala Health Minister Veena George revealed that this outbreak is linked to a strain of the virus from Bangladesh. Fortunately, the variant appears to have a high mortality rate but is less infectious.
The Nipah virus is notorious for its high mortality rate and lack of treatments or vaccines. Kerala first reported the outbreak in 2018, where it claimed 21 lives out of 23 infected individuals. Subsequent outbreaks in 2019 and 2021 resulted in two more fatalities. The virus is transmitted to humans through direct contact with infected bats, pigs, or other people. It was first identified in 1999 during an outbreak in Malaysia and Singapore.
In response to the recent outbreak, authorities have taken swift measures to contain the virus. Teams from Pune's National Institute of Virology will establish a mobile lab at Kozhikode Medical College for testing and surveying bats. Epidemiologists from Chennai will also assist in the investigation. Health Minister Veena George announced various measures, including surveillance, contact tracing, isolation facilities, and procurement of medicines. Several areas have been declared containment zones, and guidelines for residents include mask-wearing, sanitizer use, and social distancing.
The outbreak has raised concerns in the neighboring districts of Kannur, Wayanad, and Malappuram, prompting an alert. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) will provide monoclonal antibodies to treat infected patients. Containment zones have restricted movement, with essential stores operating during specified hours. However, banks, educational institutions, and government offices in containment zones will remain closed. Authorities are urging the public to follow guidelines strictly and cooperate with restrictions.
The Central government has dispatched a team of health experts to Kerala. Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya stressed the importance of precautions due to the virus's transmission by bats. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has called on the public to adhere to health department instructions and cooperate with restrictions to combat the outbreak. The situation remains under close monitoring as efforts are made to prevent further spread of the virus.