The number of cases of Nipah virus in Kerala rose to five on Wednesday as a healthcare worker from a private hospital tested positive for the infection, reported The Indian Express.
According to the World Health Organization, the Nipah virus is a “zoonotic illness” transferred from animals such as pigs and fruit bats to humans. It causes fever and cold-like symptoms in patients and in some cases, the infection can cause encephalitis, which is inflammation of the brain, and myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart.
One person died this month due to the virus while another death occurred on August 30.
The health worker who was diagnosed with the virus on Wednesday worked at a private hospital in Kozhikode, where the second victim died. The health worker and two other people are under treatment. The other patient, a nine-year-old boy, is on life support.
The authorities have identified 789 persons in the contact list of the confirmed cases, according to The Indian Express. Of these, 77 persons are in the high-risk category while 153 are health workers. Seventeen persons have been isolated in hospitals in Kozhikode.
The state government has declared nine panchayats in Kozhikode district as containment zones and also set up a state-level control room. Only shops selling essential goods will be allowed to function from 7 am to 5 pm in these containment zones. No curfew timing has been given for pharmacies and health centres.
Long-term surveillance is already in place and any patient who comes in with symptoms of encephalitis is being tested for Nipah virus, Kerala Health Minister Veena George said, reported PTI.
The minister said that the World Health Organization and the Indian Council of Medical Research studies had found out that the entire state is prone to getting such infections and not just Kozhikode. She also asked people living in forest areas to take the highest precautions.
The virus detected in Kerala was the same as one found earlier in Bangladesh, a strain that spreads from human to human with a high mortality rate but has a history of being less infectious.
A team of doctors from the National Centre for Disease Control visited the control room on Wednesday. One team each from the Indian Council of Medical Research in Pune and other from the Union Health Ministry reached Kozhikode on Wednesday night to assist the state government.