A day after Ernakulam collector K Mohammed Y Safirulla junked social media reports about Nipah virus case in his district, the Kerala government on Monday issued a high alert. This was after the 23-year-old patient who was admitted in an isolation ward in Ernakulam district tested positive for the deadly brain damaging Nipah virus. His samples have been sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune.
The Kerala health ministry is in touch with the Centre that is rushing a team of experts to Ernakulam. In order to ensure there is no spread of panic, Kerala Health minister KK Shailaja has said the six people who had been in touch with the patient, had been quarantined at the emergency control room in Ernakulam.
Since the patient, a college student, contracted the fever while he was in Thrissur for training, a Nipah alert has been sounded in the neighbouring district as well.
The reason why the Health ministry has moved with speed on this is because Nipah virus claimed 17 lives last year in Kerala – 14 of them in Kozhikode district in north Kerala and three in Malappuram district. The victims included a nurse, 28-year-old Lini Puthussery, who had treated one of the patients.
The Nipah virus is transmitted through bats and pigs to humans and doctors find it hard to diagnose. Symptoms include fever, muscular pain, vomiting and headache. It has a high mortality rate of 70 per cent and patients could go into a coma. What makes it more difficult for the medical fraternity is that there is no vaccine.