Kerala is reeling with the latest recurrence of the Nipah virus. The deadly infection has claimed two lives among the six confirmed cases. The state has gone into Covid-19 like a health crisis. The central and state health authorities are trying their best to respond promptly to contain the outbreak.
The Latest on Confirmed Case v
The latest confirmed is of a 39-year-old man in Kerala’s Kozhikode district. The man tested positive for the Nipah virus marking him as the sixth confirmed case for the state. There have been two fatalities. The patient sought treatment at a private hospital, where previous Nipah-positive cases had been treated for different ailments.
The state also sent an extra 11 samples to government labs for testing. These samples came back negative. Therefore, the state administration breathed a sigh of relief after receiving this welcome news.
Monoclonal Antibody Treatment
Monoclonal Antibody Treatment is the only option for Nipah infections. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) delivered these antibodies to Kozhikode for the affected patient. India has asked for 20 additional sets of treatments from Australia. The current number of antibody treatment sets are only sufficient for the existing patients.
While its clinical effectiveness is not yet proven, the antibody treatment remains a crucial tool in the fight against the virus.
The ICMR’s National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune dispatched a mobile Biosafety Level-3 (BSL-3) laboratory to Kozhikode to expedite sample testing for the virus within the district. A central team of experts from various institutions is also stationed in Kerala. Thus, it shows how the BJP administration at the center is working effectively in coordination with the Kerala state government in managing the outbreak.
The Nipah outbreak has shut down the state of Kerala. The quarantine-like condition resembles the COVID-19 situation. Educational institutions in Kozhikode were declared closed till 17 September 2023. The health minister has emphasized the need for vigilance in neighboring districts. Core committees, call centers, and control centers have been established in the district.
Medical facilities are receiving a boost and support from both the central and state governments to contain the situation. Karnataka has issued warnings and advisories to villages and towns that share a border with Kerala.
In addition to medical support teams, psychosocial support teams have been formed to assist infected individuals and their families. Moreover, treatment protocols have also been enhanced. All citizens of the state are urged to wear masks, maintain social distance, and promptly seek medical attention if they display symptoms such as cold, fever, headache, or cough.
A Recurring Challenge
This marks the fourth occurrence of the Nipah virus in Kerala, with previous cases detected in 2018, 2019, and 2021. The current strain is identified as the Bangladesh variant, characterized by high mortality despite lower infectivity. The strain is notorious for spreading primarily among humans. The re-emergence of the Nipah virus in Kerala requires the state administration to react promptly to contain its spread.
The state’s acceptance of central support and its cooperation in implementing strict quarantine-like measures may be the key to breaking the chain of infection. The BJP government had extended support for treatment and testing to the Kerala state government. Moreover, the state authorities are conducting public health campaigns to educate the masses on the means of protection and symptoms of infection. Thus, as Kerala confronts this recurrent challenge, vigilance and community cooperation remain essential in curbing the Nipah virus and safeguarding public health.