Two Nipah virus deaths: Kerala sets up control room in Kozhikode 

The health department on Tuesday formed 16 core committees for surveillance, sample test and research management, contact tracing, and patient transportation management, among others.

Published: 12th September 2023 05:11 PM  |   Last Updated: 13th September 2023 07:06 AM   |  A+A-

Kerala Health Minister Veena George

Kerala Health Minister Veena George (Photo | EPS)

By Express News Service

KOZHIKODE: The Nipah outbreak has been confirmed in Kozhikode after three out of the five samples sent to the National Institute of Virology, Pune, tested positive. Samples of a 40-year-old person who died on Monday and two relatives of a patient who died on August 30 have tested positive, Health Minister Veena George said.

“Samples of the patient who died on August 30 were not collected and hence could not be sent for testing. However, we assume that it was the index case from where the outbreak began,” Veena told reporters on Tuesday. Usually, viral load in index cases would be on the higher side, she said.

The two persons who are infected are a nine-year-old child and the brother-in-law of the 47-year-old who died on August 30, she said. 

The samples of the deceased person’s four-year-old child and a 10-month-old child of his brother-in-law tested negative, she said. The brother-in-law was in the car in which the patient was brought to the hospital.

“We have decided to collect CCTV camera visuals from the casualty section of the hospital to identify those who interacted with the patient. We have already identified the vehicle in which the patient was brought,” the minister said.

Medical team of Perambra Hospital in Kozhikode prepares to tackle the Nipah outbreak on Tuesday. Behind them is a picture of Sr Lini Puthussery, a nurse at the hospital who died of Nipah while on duty

Monoclonal antibodies will be administered to the nine-year-old child as per the doctor’s directive. Efforts are on to procure the medicine from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), she said.

A total of 168 contacts have been identified in the two cases. There are 158 persons in the contact list of the first case, of which 127 are health workers and the rest are relatives and neighbours of the patient. Ten contacts have been identified in the second case. 

“Route maps and other travel details of the contacts will be published once ready. Services of police personnel will be used for contact tracing,” she said.

Veena said a mobile facility of the National Virology Institute will be set up in Kozhikode to conduct tests expeditiously. A team from ICMR will reach here for epidemiological studies and another central team for conduct a survey of bats in the affected area.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday in a Facebook post said, the government was viewing the two deaths seriously and the health department has issued an alert in the district due to suspicion of the Nipah virus. He also said that there was no need to worry as most of those who were in close contact with the deceased persons are under treatment, as reported by PTI.

Control room opened for better coordination

The person who is considered as index case was from Maruthonka panchayat who developed high temperature and body pain on August 26. He consulted the doctor at the local health centre and later a private hospital in Kuttiady. He was shifted to another private hospital in Kozhikode after he complained of breathing difficulties and low oxygen levels. His two children, brother-in-law and his child are admitted to the hospital. The condition of one of the children is learnt to be serious.

The other person hailing from Ayancheri under the Nadapuram constituency also consulted doctors in local hospitals before reaching a private hospital in Kozhikode on September 10. It is believed that the second person came into contact with the index case when he stayed at the hospital as a bystander of his father, who was admitted for a heart ailment. 

Doctors had conducted tests for Covid 19 and Malaria when high fever persisted in the index case. The results were negative and the person died on August 30. He was buried at the local place of worship in his native place. But health experts became alert when his relatives also complained of similar difficulties after eight to ten days. Meanwhile, the second victim was admitted to the hospital with Nipah-like symptoms and died on September 11. Initial tests were conducted at the lab facility in Kozhikode itself and were sent to the National Virology Institute in Pune for confirmation.

The government swung into action on Monday morning even before Nipah's deaths were officially declared. The health minister arrived in Kozhikode and held several rounds of meetings with the officials. A control room has been opened at the Government Guest House to coordinate the activities of the different agencies.  Tourism Minister P A Muhammad Riyza convened another meeting at Kuttiady along with MLAs K P Kunhammadkutty and E K Vijayan to assess the ground-level preparations.

What is Nipah?

Nipah (NiV) is a zoonotic virus, which means it is transmitted from animals to humans. Transmission can also occur through contaminated food or directly between people. In people it infects, the virus can cause a range of illnesses from asymptomatic (subclinical) infection to acute respiratory issues and fatal encephalitis.


Fever, headache, cough, sore throat, breathing difficulty, vomiting
Severe symptoms that may follow: Disorientation, drowsiness or confusion, seizures, coma, inflammation of the brain (encephalitis)

Govt swing into action

  •  168 contacts identified in two cases. They include 127 health workers
  •  Route maps and other details of travel of the contacts to be published once ready. 
  •  Services of police personnel to be availed for contact tracing
  •  Mobile facility of National Institute of Virology, Pune, to be set up in Kozhikode to conduct tests expeditiously. 
  •  Team from Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to arrive for epidemiological studies
  •  Central team to conduct survey for bats in affected area
  •  Infected nine-year-old to be treated by administering monoclonal antibodies

Suspected case in Thiruvananthapuram

A dental college student was admitted to the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College on Tuesday morning with symptoms similar to that of a Nipah infection. He is being treated for high fever in an isolation ward. His samples have been sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune for testing. The hospital authorities maintained that more details will be known only after receiving the results.

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