Nipah Virus: Dead bats found in Himachal Pradesh school, Ashwini Choubey asks people not to panic
The Minister of State for Health today said the outbreak of Nipah virus in Kerala is a "localised" occurrence amid reports of dead bats being found on the premises of a government school.
NEW DELHI: Union Minister of State for Health Ashwini Choubey today said the outbreak of Nipah virus in Kerala is a "localised" occurrence and people need not panic, amid reports of dead bats being found on the premises of a government school in Himachal Pradesh.
He said the dead bats have been sent to the National Institute of Virology (NIV) for investigation.
"Samples of dead bats have been sent for testing to NIV, Pune, to ascertain the reason behind their deaths. Without laboratory reports it cannot be said that these bats have been killed by Nipah virus," Choubey said, adding that he has already spoken to the Himachal Pradesh administration over the matter.
The administration in Nahan sub-division of Sirmaur district in Himachal Pradesh has geared up to curb spread of the virus, and a special meeting of officials from different departments were held.
Meanwhile, a senior health ministry official said the death toll due to outbreak of Nipah rose to 12 in the southern state of Kerala, with one more person succumbing to the deadly virus in Kozhikode this morning.
According to the ministry, of the 12 deaths so far due to the virus, nine people died in Kozhikode district and three in Mallappuram.
Besides, about 160 samples have been sent for testing at the virology institute.
While 18 people with specific symptoms are admitted at hospitals in Kozhikode, 22 patients with suspected Nipah cases, all from Malappuram district, are admitted at Kozhikode Medical College for observation.
"They are all contacts of the confirmed cases and their lab results are awaited. Also, 95 families are under surveillance," health ministry official said.
Choubey said hospitals in public and private sectors have been provided with personal protective equipment and appropriate steps to contain this virus have been taken.
"It (outbreak of Nipah virus) is a localised occurrence and there is no need to panic," the minister said.
Meanwhile, Kozhikode and Mallappuram have been put on "high alert" by a central health ministry team which was sent to the state and an advisory for setting up of screening facilities of suspected cases at exit and entry points of these districts issued.
The administration has been asked to ensure availability of isolation and emergency management facilities before referral.
The local administration, with the help of central health ministry team, has set up a task force with a designated control room, while a nodal officer has been appointed to collect data and monitor the activities to ensure preventive measures.
The Virus Research Diagnostic Laboratory at Manipal Hospital and the National Institute of Virology have been asked to meet the diagnostic challenges.
Healthcare facilities have been asked to ensure isolation facilities, ventilator support and infection control practices, and coordinate to enhance surveillance for unusual illness and death of animals.
Nipah virus (NiV) infection is a newly emerging zoonosis that causes severe disease in both animals and humans.
The natural host of the virus are fruit bats of the Pteropodidae Family, Pteropus genus.
The outbreak of the disease was first reported in Kampung Sungai Nipah, Malaysia in 1998.
Intermediate hosts of this instance were found to be pigs.
Currently, there is no vaccine or drug for treatment of the NiV infection.
Treatment for human cases is management treatment along with intensive supportive care.
According to WHO, human infections range from asymptomatic infection, acute respiratory infection (mild, severe), and fatal encephalitis.
Infected people initially develop influenza-like symptoms of fever, headaches, myalgia (muscle pain), vomiting and sore throat.
This can be followed by dizziness, drowsiness, altered consciousness, and neurological signs that indicate acute encephalitis.
Some people can also experience acute respiratory distress.
Encephalitis and seizures occur in severe cases, progressing to coma within 24 to 48 hours.
The incubation period (interval from infection to the onset of symptoms) is believed to range between from 4-14 days.
However, an incubation period as long as 45 days has been reported.
The virus spreads through close contact with people's secretions and excretions.
Eating food which may have the droplets of saliva of infected bats can lead to the transmission of the virus.
According to National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme, the drug ribavirin has been shown to be effective against the viruses in viro, but human investigations to date have been inconclusive and clinical usefulness of the drug remains uncertain.
According to a health ministry official, the infection has a high mortality rate.
Earlier, cases of Nipah virus were reported from West Bengal's Siliguri in 2001 and Nadia district in 2007 and around 47 deaths were reported.