Kozhikode: Kerala Health Minister Veena George has confirmed another case of the Nipah virus, bringing the total number of infections in the state to six. The latest case involves a 39-year-old man who was seeking treatment at a private hospital in Kozhikode, where other patients infected with the virus were also being treated. Currently, there are 706 individuals on the contact list, with 77 in the high-risk category, 153 being health workers. Fortunately, none of those in the high-risk category are exhibiting symptoms at this time.
As many as 13 people are presently under observation in hospitals, displaying mild symptoms such as headaches. The government has advised high-risk contacts to remain isolated at home.
To manage the situation, the Kerala government has established 19 core committees to coordinate various measures. Volunteer teams organised by local self-government authorities are assisting in delivering essential items to individuals in isolation.
The Nipah virus has tragically claimed the lives of two people in Kerala. Health Minister Veena George emphasised a proactive approach to detecting infections before they are confirmed in laboratories. The health administration is closely monitoring clinical symptoms to issue early alerts.
The state is also prioritising the early tracing of contacts of infected individuals and isolating those with symptoms. Additionally, several village panchayats in Kozhikode district have been declared containment zones as part of the government’s strategy to limit the spread of the virus. In response, Education Minister V Sivankutty has directed the Public Education Director to organise online classes for students in containment zones to ensure continuation of education from home.
What is the Nipah Virus?
A zoonotic virus, the Nipah virus (NiV) is transmitted via animals, like bats and pigs, to humans. Fruit bats that belong to the Pteropodidae family are considered the natural host of NiV. Other ways in which NiV can be transmitted to humans is through contaminated food or coming in direct contact with infected people.
What is the incubation period of NiV?
Incubation period is the time it takes for an infected individual to show their symptoms. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the incubation period of the Nipah virus is 4 to 14 days. In contrast, an incubation period spanning 45 days has also been reported.
People who survive this virus usually make a full recovery. However, 20 per cent of patients are often left with neurological conditions like seizure disorders and personality changes. A small percentage of people also face a relapse or develop delayed onset encephalitis.
The fatality rate of this virus is currently estimated to be 40 to 70 per cent, but is subjected to change depending on clinical management and epidemiological surveillance of localities that are affected.
What are the symptoms of NiV?
A wide range of illnesses have been detected in the people who have been infected by NiV, from asymptomatic (subclinical) infection to acute illness of the respiratory system and fatal encephalitis. The virus can also lead to severe diseases in animals, like pigs, leading to major economic losses for farmers.
The WHO has notified that infected people can develop symptoms like headaches, fever, muscle pain, vomiting and sore throat. These systems are often followed by drowsiness, dizziness, altered consciousness, along with neurological indicators of acute encephalitis.
Atypical pneumonia and respiratory problems are also symptoms of NiV. In severe cases, people also get seizures, leading to coma within 24 to 48 hours.