All arrangements in place to contain Nipah spread: Kerala Health Minister

Veena George informs the Assembly of measures taken to diagnose cases, contain spread of Nipah and to ensure appropriate medical care to those tested positive. Kozhikode, Malappuram, Wayanad and Kannur have been put on the alert

September 14, 2023 06:46 pm | Updated September 15, 2023 12:55 pm IST - Thiruvananthapuram

Police have put barriers in Ayanchery grama panchayat in Kozhikode district which has been declared a containment zone after the death of 40-year-old Haris due to Nipah infection.

Police have put barriers in Ayanchery grama panchayat in Kozhikode district which has been declared a containment zone after the death of 40-year-old Haris due to Nipah infection. | Photo Credit: THULASI KAKKAT

The entire health system across the State has been put on full alert following the Nipah outbreak at Kozhikode and the Health department has made all arrangements for Nipah detection, treatment, support and care, Health Minister Veena George said in the Assembly here on Thursday.

Apart from Kozhikode, nearby districts of Malappuram, Wayanad and Kannur have been put on the alert.

In a statement made in the Assembly as per Rule 300, Ms. George gave a comprehensive description of how the outbreak had been detected and confirmed. She also elaborated on the action taken till now by the Health department to diagnose cases, contain the spread, trace the contact list and to ensure appropriate medical care to those tested positive as well those who had developed fever or related symptoms.

Revised protocol

Following the first Nipah outbreak at Kozhikode in 2018, a treatment protocol and standard operating procedures had been drawn up by the department, which dealt with all aspects of disease management, including antiviral drugs, isolation, sample testing etc. The protocol was revised in September 2021. On the basis of new scientific knowledge , the experts’ panel has now brought out the revised protocol for Nipah management in 2023, Ms. George said.

Till September 13 evening, 706 persons were included in the contact list, of whom 76 have been rated as high risk contacts. Of the high risk contacts, 72 are the relatives of patients who have been tested positive for Nipah and four are persons who took part in the funeral of the person who died on August 30 and who is now considered to be the index case in this outbreak. The rest 157 are healthcare workers

Till date, 35 samples of those who developed symptoms have been collected for testing. Of the 22 results announced till September 14 morning, four samples tested positive (including that of the second person who died on September 11). Fourteen persons are in isolation in Kozhikode Medical College.

She said that a Nipah prevention calendar had been drawn up by the State on the basis of a detailed workshop held last year, in which the departments of Forests and Wildlife, Animal Husbandry and Health had taken part.

Ms. George said that two laboratories in the State were well-equipped to diagnose Nipah virus (NiV) and that all follow-up sample testing will be done in these labs as it is suspected that the list of contacts could still go up. The Institute of Advanced Virology at Thonnakkal in the capital and the BSL 2 lab at Kozhikode Medical College are fully equipped to do the PCR test for confirming the presence of NiV in serological and other samples, including throat/nasal swabs.

Nipah is a droplet infection and unlike COVID-19 or influenza, asymptomatic persons do not spread the disease. Human to human NiV spread happens when the patient is extremely sick.

Preventive measures

Hence all healthcare personnel are required to maintain infection control protocols in hospital, including the strict use of N-95 masks and personal protection equipment.

In Kozhikode, all members of the public are required to don surgical masks and anyone developing fever, throat infection, cough are required to get in touch with health workers. People should desist from eating fruits fallen from trees which may be contaminated by bat saliva. Toddy tapped from areas where bats are roosting should not be used and water sources like wells should be covered and kept safe.

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