As Kerala reeled under a daily surge of nearly 30,000 cases of COVID-19, the deadly Nipah virus is another thorn in the side, prompting the state to further ramp up the vigilance of its health apparatus to prevent an outbreak of another infection. appearance.
However, the southern state, which already saw a local outbreak of 63 Zika virus cases in July, mostly confined to Thiruvananthapuram, need not worry about the spread of the Nipah infection, as preventive measures such as the use of masks and PPE kits are already in place due to COVID-19 and intensive contact was traced, Health Minister Veena George said Sunday.
Meanwhile, the central government has urgently dispatched a team from the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) to lend support to the state, where a 12-year-old boy died on Sunday as a result of Nipah and two others showed symptoms of the virus infection.
However, experts such as Dr Amar Fettle, Dr TS Anish and Dr TN Suresh said there was less cause for concern at this point as the state has already dealt with the Nipah virus twice in the past – when it emerged in 2018. and 2019 — and the risk of transmission would be less this time around, as protective measures, such as wearing masks and PPE kits, are already in place.
They also said Nipah infections are usually confined to small clusters or areas.
The experts said “intensive contact tracing” and quarantine of all primary contacts were the two most important steps to ensure effective control over the spread of the infection.
dr. Fettle, the node officer for H1N1, said the Nipah infection is highly pathogenic, but it’s more likely to spread once the patient’s condition gets serious — when they’re hospitalized.
He said the risk of spreading the infection would therefore be greater at the hospital than at the community level.
Therefore, when tracing contacts, people who may have been in contact with the patient in hospitals “must be closely traced,” he said.
He said measures taken by the state to tackle COVID-19, such as creating a patient time-stamped roadmap, would also be helpful here, as it would help public health authorities inform people about the places being treated by the coronavirus. the infected person have been visited and at what time.
This will let people know who should be quarantined or come forward for testing if they show symptoms and would prevent widespread panic in the district or state, he said.
dr. Anish, a specialist in community medicine, and Dr Suresh, general secretary of the Kerala Government Medical Officers Association, also believed that tracing contacts and quarantining primary contacts are the two most important steps at the moment.
dr. Anish said Nipah is usually confined to smaller areas or clusters and the number remains very small, almost never exceeding 50.
dr. Suresh said the state has already dealt with the virus twice in the past and therefore already has a model to deal with it “effectively”.
In addition, due to the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic, people are already taking preventive measures, such as wearing masks and kits, and therefore the spread of Nipah may be less.
Due to COVID-19, the victim’s list of contacts would also be limited, he said, adding that local containment activities are already underway.
He said the primary contacts would be quarantined and if they showed any symptoms they would be tested. Based on the results, supportive medical care would then be provided.
All experts said supportive care was the only means of treatment as there is no cure or vaccine for Nipah.
They also said that both Nipah and COVID-19 were less likely to infect patients.
The health minister told media earlier in the day that information about the boy’s infection status had been received too late, but as soon as they were made aware of it, the department sprang into action and held an emergency meeting itself on Saturday night. to formulate an action plan.
She said a special team had been formed that night to conduct contact tracing and identify primary contacts and that it was carrying out that work effectively.
Preparations have been made to isolate or quarantine those on the primary contact list and then, after another meeting at Kozhikode Medical College, a treatment protocol would be decided, the minister said.
Later in the day, she said two more people showed symptoms of Nipah infection and were being monitored.
The two, both health workers at the hospitals where the victim was admitted, are among the 12-year-old child’s 20 high-risk contacts, she said.
Nearby Kannur and Malappuram districts have also been ordered to be alert to Nipah cases, she had previously said.
The minister also said it is under investigation as to why the case was reported again in Kozhikode, as had happened in 2018 when the first infection was recorded in the same district.
The first outbreak of Nipah virus disease in South India was reported on May 19, 2018 from Kozhikode district of Kerala. As of June 1, 2018, there were 17 deaths and 18 confirmed cases.
The outbreak was under control and declared over on June 10, 2018.
Then, in June 2019, a new case of Nipah was reported from Kochi and the only patient was a 23-year-old student, who later recovered.
Reporting a case this year marks the fifth time the virus has been discovered in India and the third in Kerala.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NewsMadura staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)