Kochi: Kerala’s northern districts of Kozhikode, Kannur and Malappuram were put on high alert following the death of a 12-old boy due to Nipah virus infection.
The boy was admitted to a private hospital with high fever four days ago, and the hospital authorities sent his samples to the Pune Virology Institute, which confirmed the presence of Nipah virus. As preparations were being made to shift him to the Kozhikode Medical College, the boy died on Saturday morning.
According to PTI, two health workers who were in contact with the boy are now under surveillance.
A team led by Kerala’s health minister Veena George is camping in the area. The Centre, too, has rushed a team to assess the situation and help the state officials. Kerala has been advised to undertake immediate contact tracing in the family, village and areas with similar topography, especially in Malappuram. (According to PTI, 188 people are in the contact list and 20 of these are from the index list or high-risk category.)
An action plan has been prepared to prevent the spread of the disease, which is more lethal than coronavirus, as patients are at greater risk of dying.
The source of the virus has not been identified yet, but neighbours said the boy had eaten rambutan fruit, which attracts bats, believed to be carriers of the Nipah virus.
Nipah has reared its head at a time when the health authorities are struggling to keep Covid infection under control; this has further complicated the task of the authorities. But, according to experts, since hospitals are already adhering to infection control regimes, it would be easier for them to watch out for Nipah infection.
Kerala already has some experience in handling Nipah. It was first reported in Kozhikode in 2018, the same place where it has now surfaced. The infection then claimed 17 lives, but the authorities managed to control the virus.
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