At least 11 people have died of the Nipah (NiV) virus in Kerala’s Kozhikode and Mallapuram so far even as the state government has advised travellers to “avoid” going to Kannur, Wayanad, Kozhikode and Malappuram. This came after Kerala Health Minister K K Shylaja assured that the government has taken precautionary measures to check the spread of the deadly virus. Nipah virus has been claiming lives since 1998. It was first reported in Kampung Sungai Nipah, Malaysia.
Earlier, cases of Nipah virus were detected in West Bengal’s Siliguri in 2001 and Nadia in 2007 and around 47 deaths were reported. The kearala government, however, said that travelling to the state was perfectly safe. “However, if travellers wish to be extra conscious, they may avoid the districts of Kozhikode, Malappuram, Wayanad and Kannur,” state Health Secretary Rajeev Sadanandan said in the advisory.
Here are the latest developments from Kerala:
Central team in Kerala
A central health ministry team has interacted with doctors at government and private hospitals as well as the common public there to create awareness about the disease and dispel fears. A part of the team led by Dr S K Singh, Director of National Centre for Disease Control, visited Malappuram district along with the state health minister and interacted with the general public. It has been learnt that constantly reviewing the situation in Kerala.
Kerala issues advisory
Advisories were issued for sample collection and transportation also. According to the health ministry, there have been 11 deaths, eight in Kozhikode district and three from Malappuram district, while 13 confirmed cases have been reported. Among the 16 suspected cases, 15 are admitted in Government Medical College, Kozhikode, and one is admitted in Manjeri Medical College in Malappuram district.
Kerala Governor P Sathasivam has appealed to the people of the state not to panic over rumours about the spread of Nipah virus. In a message, the Governor requested everyone to follow the advisories issued by the State Health Department and to have full trust in the efficiency of doctors, health workers and experts from the Union Government.
Other states issue alert
In the wake of Nipah virus outbreak in Kerala, the Gujarat government has directed its health officials to be vigilant and keep watch on people visiting Gujarat from the southern state. “Situation in Gujarat is well under control. We have directed the CDHOs to remain observant regarding Nipah virus (outbreak) which is so far limited only to two districts of Kerala,” Mission Director, National Health Mission, Gaurav Dahiya said.
The Goa government has said that though there is no case of Nipah virus reported in the state so far, it would ask doctors to stay vigilant. “At present, there is no reason to worry as there is not a single case of Nipah virus in Goa. The Centre has also not issued any alert except for a general advisory, briefing about the origin and symptoms of the virus,” Health Minister Vishwajit Rane told media.
Rajasthan government too gave directions to officials to take precautionary measures to check the spread of the virus in the state. Health Minister Kalicharan Saraf said that many people the state live in Kerala and they often visit Rajasthani therefore “there is a need to remain alert and create public awareness on the issue.” He asked officials to make necessary arrangements for checking the spread of the virus in the state.
Dr Suryanarayana Sharma, Neurologist and stroke specialist, BGS Gleneagles Global Hospital Bengaluru said that one should avoid contact with bats or its faecal droppings and pigs. Additionally, one should avoid fruits that may be half eaten by bats, as these may carry the virus. “Widespread panic and lack of preparedness for newer forms of rare viral diseases is quite difficult to handle. Public awareness, education and Do’s and Don’ts through various media channels should be carried out for Nipah virus flu,” said Dr Usha Manjunath, Director IIHMR (Institute of Health Management and Research) Bangalore.