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18 Apr 2024, Edition - 3201, Thursday

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Deadly nipah resurfaces in Kerala after a year, puts all on alert

Ajay Kumar Menon


The deadly virus of nipah, which claimed 17 lives in Kerala last year, the s back this time and a youth is in a private hospital in Kochi. To add to the scare is that 311 people who had been in contact with the student are under observation. Three persons who were engaged in treating the student have been moved to the isolation ward and tests proved nipah-negative o their case.

Though the illness is now confined to Kochi, there is reason for people in other parts of Kerala and neighbouring states, especially with people from there coming regularly to Kochi and other parts of Kerala, but also people from here going to cities in state’s nearby.

The health department swing into action and took all precautionary measures and has helped contain the scare. Kerala’s Health Minister KK Shylaja has won public praise for her timely action and warding off tension, to a great extent, among people.

Realising the gravity of the situation as priority would be to check its spread, the Union Government stepping in an sent its team of experts from AIIMS.

The medicine to treat the student had been brought from Australia and the good news from the hospital is that his condition has been improving and his fever has subsided.

The victim from Parur near Kochi was an engineering student at Thodupuzha in Idukki district and went to Thrissur as part of an internship programme on May 21. He developed fever and returned after two days and finally landed in a private Kochi hospital.

It is not an isolated case as the outbreak of nipah is really cause for concern as there has to be precautionary measures, especially where bats are in plenty, as these are said to be carriers of the virus. Fruit bats and even pigs are said to be cause for transmission of the disease and efforts are on to trace the source of the virus.

Nipah, with a fatality rate in the 40-75 per cent, first made its presence in Malaysia among pig farmers in 1999. The next case was then detected in Bangladesh in 2001, after which it has been making regular recurrence.

If it made its presence in Kozhikode and Malappuram districts last year, exactly after a year it resurfaced in Kochi.

Medical experts attribute the spread of the virus to bats. They back their arguments on the first case detected last year among those who cleaned a bat-infested well in the area.

But the forest department says collecting of samples from bats in the vicinity of the student’s residence can be undertaken only after confirmation that bats are its transmitters.

A medical team for the central health department has arrived at Parur and is collecting samples from bats and pigs in farms in the area.

This would mean that bat-eaten fruits should not be consumed. Also, hygiene in food, drinks, dress, etc will have to get priority. People should also avoid visiting hospitals unless unavoidable. Also authorities should come out with health bulletins and people should follow them closely, health department officials say.

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