The demise of the Nipah virus has officers within the Indian state of Kerala on excessive alert: NPR
People in protective suits prepare to cremate the body of a 12-year-old boy who died of Nipah virus on September 5 in Kozhikode, Kerala state, India – the deadly Nipah virus, although it continues to have the highest levels of coronavirus -Fighted cases in the country. Shijith. K / AP Hide caption
NEW DELHI – The southern Indian state of Kerala is rapidly stepping up efforts to halt a possible outbreak of the deadly Nipah virus, despite the state continuing to tackle the highest number of coronavirus cases in the country.
Kerala is on high alert after a 12-year-old boy died of the rare virus on Sunday in town of Kozhikode.
The country’s health minister told reporters on Tuesday that samples from eight main contacts were negative.
“That these eight immediate contacts tested negative is a huge relief,” said Veena George.
Nipah, which was first identified during an outbreak in Malaysia in the late 1990s, can be transmitted through fruit bats, pigs, and through human-to-human contact. There is no vaccine available for the virus, which can cause fever, convulsions, and vomiting. The only treatment is supportive care to control complications and ensure patient well-being.
According to the WHO, the virus has an estimated death rate between 40% and 75%, making it far more deadly than the coronavirus.
George said that more samples will be tested Tuesday and that a total of 48 contacts, including the eight that tested negative, will be monitored at a hospital. Officials will also conduct door-to-door surveillance and identify secondary contacts.
Over the weekend, the federal government sent a team of experts to Kozhikode to help local officials find contacts. They also suggested a list of recommendations, including strengthening health infrastructure for additional cases and warning neighboring counties.
The state dealt with Nipah in 2018 when more than a dozen people died from the virus. This time around, concerns are heightened by the fact that the state has made national headlines in recent weeks for seeing the highest number of daily COVID-19 cases in any of India.
As of Monday, Kerala registered nearly 20,000 COVID-19 infections from India’s 31,222 daily. While cases across the country have declined after a devastating surge earlier this year, the situation in Kerala remains worrying as experts warn the state cannot be on guard.