Kerala Nipah Outbreak: More samples sent for testing, high-mortality variant detected
Several more samples sent to NIV Pune, Kerala Government said, adding that the outbreak seems to have been caused by the high-mortality Bangladeshi variant of the virus
The Kerala government has sent five samples to the National Institute of Virology in Pune and a team from the institute is to arrive in the state and conduct tests in Kerala during the day to set up a mobile lab at Kozhikode Medical College to test for Nipah and carry out survey of bats, the state government said in the assembly on Wednesday.
Kerala Health Minister Veena George was apprising the state assembly on the Nipah virus outbreak after two deaths were reported in the state.
Meanwhile, Kozhikode district collector A Geetha on Tuesday released a list of containment zones in the district. Two deaths in the district are now confirmed to have been caused by the deadly Nipah virus. Entry and exit will be restricted to these containment zones in 43 wards in 7 panchayats in the district.
Meanwhile, Kerala general education minister V Sivankutty has directed all schools in the containment zones to be closed until further orders. All schools, anganwadis and banks are set to remain shut in the district.
Only medical shops and food and essential shops are allowed to function from 7 am to 5 pm. However, medical shops and health centres will not have any restrictions.
All government offices and village offices are set to function with only minimum staff.
Transportation through public zones in containment zones will be not allowed. vehicles traveling through national and state highways will not be permitted to stop in the containment zones.
Social distancing, masks and sanitiser usage in containment zones are advised.
Containment zones (wards)
Despite several attempts to trace the source of the Nipah virus since 2018, no exact information or scientific explanation regarding the source of the virus is available yet. The mystery is likely to repeat in the Nipah cases reported in Kozhikode district on Monday, as no primary evidence or information regarding the source has been identified so far.
Meanwhile, an uneasy calm prevailed in the places where the Nipah deaths were reported. A ward in Maruthonkara panchayat where the first Nipah death occurred is mostly a residential area, packed with houses, according to an Asha worker in the region.
This year, the first victim is a 47-year-old man from Maruthonkara panchayat in Kozhikode and the second is a 40-year-old man from Ayanchery in Vadakara. Both are not related to each other and sought treatment at different hospitals. The former died on August 30 and the latter on September 11.
The fourth occurrence of Nipah in the state has thrown more challenges to the health authorities with two index cases, one at Kozhikode and another one at Vadakara. According to health experts, the possibility of the presence of more than one index case (direct infection from an animal to a human) is baffling.
The transmission of the virus from bats to humans is considered a rare event. Even when the state reported three instances recently in 2018, 2019, and 2021, there was only one index case that infected others, at each outbreak.
“Two index cases of Nipah is highly improbable, statistically. It is difficult to believe. There could be some contact between the two victims,” said Dr K P Aravindan, a pathologist and a health activist. Dr Althaf A, epidemiologist and a professor at Government Medical College, Thiruvananthapuram, who conducted extensive studies on the Nipah outbreak in the state in 2018, said only one person is likely to get infected from one source.