Nipah virus that terrified Kerala in 2018 is reported again in Kozhikode with the death of a 12-year-old boy on Sunday morning.
Health minister Veena George, who addressed the media in Thrissur, said that the 3 samples sent for testing confirmed the Nipah infection in the child. The serum, plasma and CSF tests turned positive for the Nipah infection. The Central Government has also rushed a team of the National Centre for Disease Control to the state. The patient was initially taken to a private hospital, and was later shifted to the Kozhikode Medical College. However, he was later shifted back to a private hospital.
The Nipah virus was confirmed in Kozhikode on 19 May 2018, and it was the first outbreak in South India. From Kozhikode and Malappuram districts, a total of 23 cases were identified, including the index case. Out of 18 laboratory-confirmed cases, 17 deaths were registered by June 1, 2018.
The incubation period of the virus was 9 days. The transmission was from person to person where the primary source was the origin for 15 other cases including 2 healthcare workers. More than 2600 contacts were under surveillance.
The index case developed symptoms of the disease on 2nd May 2018. On 3rd May, he was taken to the hospital, where he was treated for two days.
On May 5, he was taken to another hospital in an ambulance and his father was with him. He died on the evening of the same day. Of the 22 additional cases recognised, 10 cases were from the contacts of the first source in the first hospital, and 10 were from the contacts of the index case from the second hospital. The first set of infected people contains the relatives of the index case, patients who came in contact with the index case, and their relatives. Three remaining cases were secondary infections.
Disease control actions rose immediately after the confirmation of the virus. All the people with symptoms were admitted in isolation-ward. Public awareness was strengthened via mass media. The outbreak was contained within 3 weeks and declared end by July the same year.
Return of Nipah in 2019
In June 2019, Nipah virus infection was once again detected in a 23-year-old male from Ernakulam. The man, from a village near North Paravur, underwent treatment at a private hospital for 54 days. According to the governement’s report, Health Department had kept 338 people under observation and 17 of them in the isolation of a government hospital in Kalamassery,
Just before being admitted to the hospital, he visited a training camp in Thrissur district. Immediately the people in three districts were scanned to find all possible contacts he had in the immediate past. All the suspected contact cases were kept under strict monitoring. Finally, the government managed to control the disease without reporting any secondary cases of infection. Later, health minister KK Shailaja had announced the district to be free from Nipah Virus.
How can the virus be detected?
Nipah virus infection can be diagnosed with clinical history during the acute and convalescent phases of the disease. The main tests used are real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) from bodily fluids and antibody detection via enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).
Other tests used include polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay and virus isolation by cell culture.
How to fight the Nipah Virus
- Precautions to be taken to prevent transmission of the disease from infected bats.
- Infected bat droppings can infect the human body. Avoid all circumstances for this. For example, avoid toddy collected in open pots from places where there are a lot of bats.
- Avoid bat-bitten fruits like guava and mango.
- Precautions to be taken to prevent transmission of the disease from an infected person.
- Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after coming in contact with the patient.
- Keep a distance of at least one meter from the patient and away from the patient's bed
- Wash and dry clothes separately
- Admit all patients with symptoms to the isolation ward
- Wear gloves and a mask when talking to, examining, or engaging with other people suspected of having the disease.
- Strictly take all precautions taken for infectious diseases in such patients.
- Inform the authorities if symptoms are suspected in a patient admitted.
- Masks, gloves, should be worn while in contact with the patient. Extreme care and safety must be exercised when removing them after use.
- Wear N-95 masks
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Hands may be washed after handling with disinfectants
- Avoid contact with face and body fluids while transporting the body
- Better avoid kissing and touching cheeks.
- While bathing the deceased cover the face
- After bathing the corpse, the person should take a bath
- Items such as clothes and utensils used by the deceased should be washed with soap and detergent.
- Only limited number of people should be allowed to attend funerals.