KOZHIKODE: The state, on tenterhooks ever since the death of a 12-year-old boy due to Nipah virus infection, heaved a sigh of relief when samples of 10 of his close contacts who were suspected to have been infected, tested negative on Tuesday. Those cleared of infection include parents and eight others who interacted closely with the boy.
“The negative results are a big relief,” said Health Minister Veena George who, however, cautioned that the state has to remain vigilant against spread. Six more persons developed symptoms on Tuesday, taking the total number of symptomatic people to 17. Of the 10 samples that turned negative, eight were tested by the National Institute of Virology Pune, and the rest by the ‘point of care’ lab set up at the Kozhikode Medical College Hospital.
“We are now testing 35 samples at the Kozhikode MCH,” she said. Only initial screening is done at its lab. If the samples turn positive, they will be sent to Pune,” Veena said. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said all arrangements are in place to prevent the spread of Nipah. According to him, a state control cell has been activated to strengthen the preventive measures in other districts.
There are 257 people on the contact list, which include 35 from Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Ernakulam, Wayanad, Kannur and Malappuram districts. Since the boy was taken to four hospitals, a more comprehensive institutional route map has been released drawing up his travel path through the testing centres in each hospital.
The health minister said 122 persons on the contact list are in high-risk category. “Of them, 44 are healthcare workers. Fifty-one are currently admitted to the Nipah block of medical college,” said Veena.
Central team out to trace infection source
“The preliminary assumption is that the boy might have been infected through the rambutan he ate. But that can only be confirmed by the findings of the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD), which is expected to arrive in two days,” the minister added.
Meanwhile, the team from National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) continued its efforts to trace the source of infection at Pazhoor and nearby areas. Another team of the animal husbandry department collected samples of 23 goats from 11 households within a 1-km radius of the house of the deceased boy. “No goat was found infected. These samples, along with samples of fruit bats, will be sent to Bhopal,” said Dr K Baby, deputy director, animal husbandry department.
Experts from State Institute for Animal Diseases (SIAD), Thiruvananthapuram, have also reached the district. The entire Chathamangalam grama panchayat and areas in a three-kilometre radius of Pazhoor have been shut down completely after the disease was confirmed. Local residents are allowed to go out only to visit hospitals, attend examinations or for going abroad.
STEPS TO PREVENT SPREAD
A state Nipah control cell has been activated to strengthen preventive measures in other districts, according to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan
257 people in contact list including four from Wayanad, eight from Malappuram, three from Ernakulam and one each from Kollam and Palakkad
Medical officers in all hospitals in Kozhikode have been given training, with focus on disease prevention