Kerala Authorities Report 48 Hours Without Nipah Virus; Situation Under Control

Kerala Authorities Report 48 Hours Without Nipah Virus; Situation Under Control

Thiruvananthapuram - On Sunday, the Kerala government provided reassuring updates regarding the Nipah outbreak in the state, indicating that the situation was firmly under control. This optimism stemmed from the absence of any new positive cases for the second consecutive day, coupled with the encouraging recovery of previously infected patients.

Veena George, the State Health Minister, expressed relief that there had been no fresh detections of the virus, emphasizing, "The situation is under control presently." She made these statements during an evening press briefing following a comprehensive review of the Nipah situation in the northern district of Kerala.

George reported that the four individuals who had contracted the virus, including a nine-year-old boy, were showing signs of improvement, with the child even being removed from ventilator support temporarily.

Regarding the utilization of monoclonal antibody treatment, an experimental therapeutic option available against the virus, the minister noted that the current variant displayed only 50-60 percent effectiveness. However, she assured that the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) was actively working on developing a more efficient version.

Additionally, George disclosed that samples from 36 bats had been collected and sent to the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune for analysis to determine the presence of the virus among these mammals.

Furthermore, George clarified that since all the infected individuals had contracted the virus from the same person, the index case who had unfortunately passed away on August 30, there was no evidence of a second wave. This assertion could be substantiated through genomic sequencing, which was currently underway.

Up to that point, contact tracing efforts had identified 1,233 individuals, of whom 352 were considered high-risk contacts, according to George.

Earlier in the day, the minister had announced that containment and quarantine measures would remain in place for 42 days from the last reported positive case due to the virus's 21-day incubation period.

In the morning briefing, George mentioned that a central team was surveying the area of the 2018 Nipah outbreak, examining any ecological changes. Simultaneously, teams from NIV Pune and ICMR were conducting field surveys in the district.

State Tourism Minister PA Mohamed Riyas, also present during the press briefing, praised the public's cooperation with government containment and quarantine efforts.

Furthermore, George emphasized the state's capacity for Nipah testing and the ability to confirm virus presence through tests. Mobile labs from the Rajiv Gandhi Center for Biotechnology and NIV Pune had significantly expedited testing and bolstered preventive measures.

The testing process, she explained, was complex due to the virus's dangerous nature. Moreover, infected individuals did not initially display symptoms, posing a challenge as early testing was pivotal for survival and disease prevention. Real-time polymerase chain reaction (RTPCR) or PCR tests were employed for Nipah virus detection.

In parallel, the state government introduced a specialized outpatient department (OPD) service through its e-Sanjeevini telemedicine system, as reported by Kozhikode District Collector A Geetha in a Facebook post.

Geetha also cautioned against disturbing bats through stone-throwing, loud noises, firecrackers, or habitat disruption. Stress on bats, especially those infected with Nipah, can elevate virus levels in their bodies, increasing the risk of infection spread through body fluids.

The total number of confirmed Nipah infection cases in the state stood at six, with two fatalities and four individuals currently undergoing treatment.

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