THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With the source of the Nipah virus outbreak in Kozhikode and Malappuram districts remains inconclusive, the Community Medicine Department (CMD) at Thiruvananthapuram Medical College Hospital will conduct an epidemiological study at the affected areas.According to the Health Department, the evidence-based study which will begin right from the index case (first case), will track around 753 persons who were suspected to be in contact with the confirmed cases.
“Yes, the Community Medicine Department of Thiruvananthapuram MCH has been asked to conduct an epidemiological study on Nipah. In this initiative, they will have the guidance of international agencies also. It will also become a kind of forecast study,” said Rajeev Sadanandan, Health Secretary. According to him, the study will not only cover the course and frequency of the virus, but also will look into aspects like its distribution pattern, potential causes, evaluation of preventive measures and future risks.
Health Secretary directed a fresh study after an early study conducted by Dr G Arunkumar, who heads the Manipal Centre for Virus Research (MCVR) under Manipal Academy of Higher Education in Karnataka and Kozhikode Medical College’s CMD remained indecisive.
“The study that the CMD will conduct will be evidence-based. In this endeavour, they will not only track the contacts who were in touch with the confirmed cases, right from the index case but will also look for the connecting link or source behind the outbreak,” said Dr Bipin K Gopal, state nodal officer, Non-Communicable Diseases.
Dr Reena K J, additional director of health services (Public Health) told ‘Express’ that though the Health Department believes that the Nipah outbreak is almost over, it is not going to take any chances for any future breakout. “That is why we were giving priority to trace some 753 contacts who were in touch with the confirmed cases. We will ensure that such persons didn’t have any symptoms of Nipah and were in-house quarantine. If any lapse occurs a second round of outbreak will be the result,” said Reena.
Drug Trial Mode
As the state starts to weigh the option of bringing the human monoclonal antibody tested by Australia against Hendra virus, sources say that if it arrives on time the Health Department might go for a drug trial mode. Confirming the same, the Health Secretary said that the government had contacted the World Health Organization to provide the protocol for conducting such trials. “As the antibody being brought from Australia is not a clinically proven one, it will be used under a compassionate use protocol. Negotiations in this regard is on with the WHO,” said Rajeev Sadanandan. At the same time, a section of officers with the Health Department is of the view that such antibodies will not be needed in the current situation as the number of positive cases being reported has come down and the outbreak is ‘more or less under control’.