Nipah Virus Outbreak: All Educational Institutes to Remain Closed in Kerala
Kerala has witnessed the fourth Nipah virus outbreak this year. Previously, virus outbreaks in the state were reported in 2018, 2019, and 2021.
The Kerala state government has announced that all educational institutions in the state will remain closed till Sunday (September 24).
The decision was made late Friday after the total number of cases reached six and the death toll reached two.
Media reports indicate that the number of individuals on the contact list of Nipah virus
patients has surpassed 1,000, with an additional 130 individuals being added. Of the total number of people in the contact list, 327 are health workers.
Meanwhile, the state government had said that there was no need to worry about the latest outbreak, but people should be cautious.
The mortality rate in Nipah virus cases is significantly higher than that of COVID-19
, according to Rajeev Bahl, the Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)
, speaking on Friday evening.
“The mortality rate in Nipah virus cases is between 40 and 70 percent, as compared to the mortality in COVID, which was 2-3 percent,” Bahl stated.
He also said that the government will procure 20 more doses of the monoclonal antibody from Australia.
The ICMR DG said that some doses of the antibody
were received in 2018 and currently the doses are available for only 10 patients.
“Twenty more doses are being procured. But the medicine needs to be given during the early stage of the infection,” he said, adding that ''no one so far has been administered the medicine in India.''
While talking to Sputnik India, Dr Subrata Das, Senior Consultant - Internal Medicine and Diabetology, Skara World Hospital, Bengaluru said: “Nipah Virus is most dangerous when it affects the brain, so knowing its symptoms is vital for quick treatment. Despite the fresh threat, it's crucial not to panic but to focus on preventing its spread.”
“Nipah Virus typically causes fever and brain swelling, leading to persistent headaches. It can also result in respiratory issues like difficulty breathing, cough, and a sore throat. Additionally, it may lead to stomach problems, muscle pain, and weakness, with severe cases causing disorientation and seizures,” he further stated.
Das stated that the World Health Organization (WHO)
has identified the Nipah virus (NiV) as a newly emerged paramyxovirus originating from animals, which has the ability to cause severe and often fatal diseases
in both animals and humans.
“It is believed to have originated from animals, particularly fruit bats, notably the Pteropus species, which serve as carriers for the virus. Humans can contract the virus through close interaction with infected animals and their bodily fluids, consumption of contaminated food, or contact with surfaces that have been contaminated. Although the specific factors leading to transmission can vary, the common route typically involves the virus crossing from animals to humans through direct contact. In short, the interaction between fruit bats and humans is known to cause the emergence of new cases,” the senior consultant said.
Das emphasized the importance of taking precautionary measures to protect oneself from the virus. Since a vaccine is not yet available, it is crucial to avoid close contact with infected individuals. Additionally, practicing good hand hygiene and avoiding sick animals, particularly pigs and bats, is advised. Das also recommended using protective gear when necessary and being cautious when consuming potentially contaminated food, especially fruits from trees where fruit bats are commonly found.
He also advised isolation and quarantine
while following medical and public health guidelines.