Nipah virus returns to Kerala, Ernakulam man tested positive

The state government was awaiting National Institute of Virology’s report which confirmed the presence of the virus that killed 17 people in Kerala last year

By Rejimon Kuttappan
Published: Tuesday 04 June 2019
Nipah virus returns to Kerala, Ernakulam man tested positive
Photo: Getty Images Photo: Getty Images

A 23-year-old man admitted in a hospital in Kerala’s Ernakulam has been tested positive for Nipah virus, confirmed KK Shailaja, the state’s health minister.

The state was awaiting the reports from National Institute of Virology, Pune, which confirmed the presence of the virus in the man’s blood sample. “The patient has been tested positive for Nipah,” said Shailaja on June 4, 2019.

On June 3, the patient’s blood samples were sent to the Pune institute after the Alappuzha Virology Institute tested them. “A friend of the patient has been moved to an isolation unit.  Another person and two nurses treating the patient are under observation,” added the minister. The Kerala government issued a high alert on June 3.

The disease is considered deadly because, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are currently no drugs or vaccines for the infection.

Shailaja also said the health department would require retired health secretary Rajeev Sadanandan’s help to combat the situation since he led the team that handled the last outbreak in 2018.

According to the WHO, 18 Nipah cases were reported in Kerala last year and 17 of them died. Kozhikode saw 14 of these deaths and three occurred in neighbouring Malappuram in May last year.

The patient is currently in an isolation ward in an Ernakulam hospital. He studies in a college in Thodupuzha in Idukki and had been to Thrissur recently. He had travelled with a group of 22 students from Thodupuzha to a company in Thrissur for an internship programme. After the programme, the student went back to his house in Ernakulam.

Hence, all three districts are being watched by health officials.

He has been suffering from fever and other symptoms for the last 10 days. He was first treated in a hospital in Thrissur and when his fever showed no signs of recovery, he was moved to a private hospital in Ernakulam. It is from there his samples were sent for testing.

Meanwhile, district and medical heads in both Ernakulam and Thrissur have sprung into action. According to Thrissur District Medical Officer KJ Reena, the student was in Thrissur only for four days. “There were 16 other students with him and six of them, who came in direct contact with him, are under observation,” the DMO said.

Nipah virus is transferred from animals to human being and can cause a range of illnesses from acute respiratory illness and fatal encephalitis.

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