Kerala Takes Drastic Measures to Contain Nipah Virus: Some Schools and Offices Closed

INDIA: India’s southern state of Kerala closed some schools, offices, and public transport services, authorities announced on Wednesday as they scrambled swiftly to control the spread of the rare and lethal brain-damaging Nipah virus, which has tragically resulted in the deaths of two individuals.

A health official of Kerala reported that there are still two individuals, one adult and one child, who remain infected and are receiving treatment in the hospital. Additionally, over 130 people have undergone testing for the virus, which is transmitted through direct contact with the bodily fluids of infected bats, pigs, or humans.

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The Kerala health minister, Veena George, told reporters that the virus strain was being investigated. “We are focusing on tracing contacts of infected persons early and isolating anyone with symptoms,” she said.

“Public movement has been restricted in parts of the state to contain the medical crisis,” she added.

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Since August 30, two infected individuals have succumbed to the virus in what marks the fourth outbreak in the state since 2018, prompting authorities to declare containment zones in a minimum of seven villages within the Kozhikode district.

Stringent isolation measures were implemented, including the quarantine of medical personnel who had direct contact with the infected individuals.

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According to a government official, the first victim was a small-scale landowner who lived in the village of Marutonkara in the district. The victim’s daughter and brother-in-law, both of whom contracted the virus, are currently in an isolation unit, while other family members and neighbours are undergoing testing.

The second fatality occurred due to contact within the hospital setting with the first victim, as the doctors’ initial investigation has indicated, but the two individuals were not related, the official added..

The official stated that three federal teams, which included professionals from the National Virology Institute, were due to arrive on Wednesday for additional testing.

The Nipah virus was initially discovered in 1999 during an outbreak of illness among pig farmers and individuals in Malaysia and Singapore who had close contact with these animals.

In Kerala’s initial Nipah outbreak, 21 out of the 23 infected individuals lost their lives. Additionally, two more lives were claimed in subsequent outbreaks in 2019 and 2021.

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