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A 23-year-old man admitted in a private hospital in Kerala’s Ernakulam has been tested positive for the deadly Nipah virus, which killed 17 people last year. The National Institute of Virology, which tested the man’s blood samples, confirmed the presence of the virus.
Four more people, including two nurses, are down with fever. Two of them had come in contact with the 23-year-old man.
The Kerala government said people should not panic as it had put into place precautionary measures even before the virus was confirmed.
Fifty-two more people, among them 22 students, have been put under surveillance.
Nipah virus is transmitted from animals to humans and then spreads through people to people contact. It is associated with fatal encephalitis and respiratory illness. In initial stages it causes fever, headache, muscle pain, dizziness and nausea.
Doctors said of the 52 people who came in contact with the suspected patient, 11 students had travelled with him to Thrissur for internship.
The Kerala government on Monday said the situation is under control. As precautionary measures, isolation wards have been ordered in three districts – Ernakulam, Thrissur and Kozhikode.
“We are prepared with all precautionary measures, especially because we have trained staff from the last outbreak in 2018,” Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja said on Monday.
“We have started tracing all the people who have come in contact with this youth to ensure they monitored, after they are familiarised with the precautionary measures. There is no reason to panic,” said the minister, before leaving for Ernaculum to survey the situation.
According to the World Health Organisation, 18 Nipah cases were reported in Kerala last year; 17 of them died. The first death was reported on May 19, 2018. Since then, more than 2,600 contacts were identified and followed up with during the outbreak.
Multi-disciplinary teams – comprising members from the Health Ministry, animal husbandry department, National Centre for Disease Control, AIIMS, Safdarjung Hospital and the Indian Council of Medical Research – were sent to assist the Kerala government after the outbreak.