The Health Department is reportedly keeping a close watch on encephalitis and meningitis cases in Kozhikode and Malappuram districts to zero in on possibility of Nipah infection in patients admitted to government and private hospitals.
Encephalitis, caused by a virus infection, is the inflammation of the brain, and meningitis, caused by bacterial infection, is the inflammation of the meninges or tissues that surround the brain or spinal cord. Symptoms of encephalitis include fever, headache, neck pain, drowsiness and nausea. Those with meningitis will have headache, fever, stiff neck, and nausea. Nipah-infected patients generally will show encephalitis symptoms along with disorientation, respiratory issues and a confused state of mind.
There is a possibility of Nipah cases getting passed off as encephalitis or meningitis. The department is learnt to be on alert to avoid this. Body fluid samples of suspected cases now will have to be sent for detailed lab tests.
The Kozhikode district administration on Tuesday directed all the government and private hospitals in the district to alert the District Medical Officer (DMO) about such cases. Patients should be transported to hospitals only by ambulance vehicles. It has been decided to train ambulance drivers to address emergency situations and ensure enough ambulance vehicles are available.
A special team of expert doctors drawn from medical colleges and other hospitals was formed in Malappuram in May itself when close to 80 cases of meningitis and encephalitis cases were reported from the district in around three months. There were a couple of deaths too. The Health Department had also prepared a treatment protocol. A surveillance team under the DMO will have to be alerted about any unusual fever cases.