In the wake of a suspected case of Nipah virus infection at a private hospital in Kochi, a high-level committee has decided to strengthen preventive measures, even as confirmation is awaited from the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune.
The committee, comprising Health Secretary Rajan Kobargade, District Collector Mohammed Y. Safirulla, District Medical Officer N.K. Kuttappan, and other senior Health officials, met in Kochi after a private hospital reported on Sunday that a college student from North Paravur studying in Thodupuzha was admitted with an infection that could not be identified by them.
The samples of the patient have been sent to Pune and health authorities are awaiting the results.
A team from Kozhikode was arriving to oversee and train the Health officials in matters of technical management in case the infection gets confirmed, District Medical Officer N.K. Kuttappan told The Hindu .
A control room will be opened at the Collectorate for any information related to the Nipah virus. An isolation ward is being arranged at the Government Medical College, Ernakulam. Equipment and other facilities are being brought into the casualty ward.
Government closely monitoring situation: Pinarayi Vijayan
In a Facebook post, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the government was closely monitoring the situation. Kerala’s health network was capable of handling any emergency, he said. He urged people to follow the Health department’s instructions.
“There is need to be cautious, but it is not a cause for panic,” he said. A series of measures had been ramped up to tackle the problem, he said; contact tracing, case isolation, quality care and community engagement were being done diligently. He asked people to be careful against spreading rumours through social media.
Kerala Health Minister K.K. Shylaja reiterated that the Health Department was capable of handling any situation — isolation wards and other facilities had been arranged at hospitals and medical colleges. People should stop spreading fake news about Nipah infection, she said, adding that a doctor should be consulted for aggravated cough and fever.
Last year, when a Nipah infection was detected in Kozhikode, the Health department took preventive steps to check its spread. Isolation wards were arranged in various hospitals and symptoms of the viral infection were watched closely, said the Minister.
The infection is usually spread from animal to animal, but in rare cases it spreads from animal to humans too. Bats and pigs are found to be the usual carriers.
The virus could spread through fruits bitten by carrier bats or when the excreta of such animals find their way into the foods consumed by humans. It can spread through close contact with infected persons, especially when precautions are not taken.
In case of infection, it takes five to 14 days for the symptoms to manifest. Common symptoms are fever, headache, giddiness and loss of consciousness.