PRO/AH/EDR> Nipah virus – India (05): (KL) 6 total cases, 1080 contacts


A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases

Date: Sat 16 Sep 2023 00:05 IST
Source: Hindustan Times [edited]

A 39-year-old man in Kerala has tested positive for the Nipah virus,
bringing the total number of infections to 6. The man contracted the
virus after coming into contact with a previously infected patient who
later died.

The Nipah virus is highly pathogenic and often fatal, causing brain
swelling and respiratory distress. There is currently no cure or
vaccine for the virus. The Indian government is working to evaluate
preventive measures to tackle the outbreak.

Of the 6 cases, 2 patients died on 30 Aug and 11 Sep 2023, and the
remaining 4 are undergoing treatment, officials aware of the matter

Dr KK Rajaram, the district medical officer (DMO) of Kozhikode, which
has recorded all the cases, said the man from Cheruvannur, an area
within the Kozhikode Corporation limits, contracted the virus after
coming in contact at a private hospital with the 47-year-old man who
was infected and succumbed during treatment on 30 Aug 2023.

“We have been able to establish the point of contact of the latest
person who was infected. The 39-year-old was at the same private
hospital where the first Nipah victim had sought treatment before he
died,” Rajaram said. “We will soon publish a route map with the
details of the places he visited during the course of infection. The
contact list will also be altered to include all those who came in
contact with him,” he added.

The 39-year-old is stable and currently in hospital isolation,
officials said.

The Nipah virus (NiV) is a highly pathogenic virus that causes fatal
encephalitis — swelling of the brain — and acute respiratory
distress in humans. The virus is transmitted to humans by direct
contact with the respiratory secretions or body fluids of infected
animals, such as bats and pigs, or by consumption of contaminated
fruits or palm sap. Both animal-to-human and human-to-human
transmission have been documented in several research papers. The
virus at present has no cure or vaccine.

India has witnessed at least 5 outbreaks since 2001, from West Bengal,
and Kerala, with the latest being the fifth. The first was in Siliguri
in Bengal; the other 4 have been in Kerala.

On Tuesday [12 Sep 2023], Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya told
reporters in Delhi that an expert team was sent to Kerala to assist
the state government in managing the outbreak.

There are now 1080 people on the contact list, out of which 297 are in
the “high-risk” category, officials said. There are 72 people in the
contact list of the person who tested positive on Friday [15 Sep

Kerala health minister Veena George on Friday chaired a meeting with
all department heads in Kozhikode to review ongoing measures to
curtail the virus spread, Rajaram said. Containment zones, prohibitory
measures in the district as well as updating the contact list were
discussed in the meeting, he said.

George said the 47-year-old man who died in August [2023] was earlier
suspected to have died of Nipah, as his sample was never sent for
testing. But a swab sample collected from a private hospital where he
had sought treatment confirmed he died due to the virus.

“Earlier, we were saying 5 confirmed cases and one suspected case. But
now we can say that the first victim also died of Nipah and there are
6 confirmed cases in all,” she said.

Additionally, 30 samples sent for testing have returned negative,
including health workers at a private hospital, the minister said.

Earlier in the day, George also convened a meeting of ministers from
Kozhikode district and local MPs, MLAs and heads of political parties
to discuss the situation. Besides, officials from a central team
visited Kozhikode Medical College hospital where facilities to isolate
victims or those suspected of contracting the virus were arranged. The
team also visited panchayats in Kuttiady area, which is affected by
the virus, the DMO said.

The 4-member central team visited the house and farms of the
47-year-old man in Maruthonkara panchayat who succumbed to the virus
on 30 Aug 2023, in an attempt to gather more details about the

The team, led by Dr Balasubramaniam, a scientist at the Kerala unit of
National Institute of Virology, also inquired about the work and
activities the deceased was doing in the days before his death, an
official who is part of the team said, seeking anonymity.

Experts also conducted a survey on the presence of bats in different
areas of the district. They captured the bats, took samples from them,
and freed them later, the official added.

Kozhikode district collector A Geetha, in a Facebook post, said those
residing in containment zones must approach the Nipah control cell or
local health officials if they experience symptoms such as fever,
tiredness, cough, irritation in throat, loss of breath and

Meanwhile, a native of Koyilandy in Kozhikode district was booked by
police for allegedly sharing fake news about the Nipah virus on
Facebook. The accused, [AK], was charged under section 118(E) of the
Kerala Police Act for knowingly causing danger to public or failure in
public safety.

[Byline: Vishnu Varma]

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