ITDC INDIA EPRESS/ ITDC NEWS Kerala Health Minister K.K. Shailaja confirmed on Tuesday that the 23-year-old college student who has been admitted to a private hospital in Kochi with fever is infected with the Nipah virus.
The confirmatory report came from the National Institute of Virology, Pune. While some of the symptoms have been confirmed, more results from tests of his samples will give a clear picture.
The state health minister urged everyone who has symptoms to seek treatment immediately. As many as 86 people who have come in contact with the youth after he contracted the virus have been placed under observation.
Shailaja also cautioned the media to not publish stories that would incite panic among the public. A control room has been set up where assistance can be sought by calling 1077 and 1056.
Shailaja sought to allay fears of the people saying they are unwarranted. "Doctors from Kozhikode Medical College who are experienced in treating patients affected with Nipah virus will reach Kochi. We will also seek the advice of former health secretary Rajeev Sadanandan," she said.
The minister said medicines brought from Australia are available in the National Virology Institute. The state can avail them if cases are confirmed, she said.
Isolation wards have been opened in Kochi, Kalamassery, Kozhikode and Thrissur medical colleges.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday said the government was taking precautionary actions and closely monitoring the situation. "The government is closely monitoring the current situation," Pinarayi said in a Facebook post and urged everyone to follow the instructions of the Health Department.
"No one needs to be afraid. Be alert. The Health Department is all set to face any situation," he said.The chief minister also asked people not to indulge in fake campaigns about the Nipah virus on social media. Meanwhile, the Health Department convened an emergency meeting in Thrissur following reports that the patient had stayed there. Thrissur District Medical Officer, Dr Reena, confirmed that the youth did not contract the disease from the district. She told media that the youth had stayed in Thrissur for four days along with 22 people. The Health Department examined the details of all of them and none of them had any symptoms, the DMO said.
Officials said the family and neighbours of the young man, who hails from Ernakulam district, were also under observation as was a private college in Thodupuzha in Idukki district, where the student is studying.
He was staying in a rented house at Thodupuzha along with four others. He had sought treatment from a local hospital after he caught fever. The hospital referred him to an advanced hospital in Thrissur. The college where he studies is also under observation, Idukki District Medical Officer Dr N. Priya said.
Last year, Nipah virus had claimed 17 lives in Kerala—14 in Kozhikode and three in neighbouring Malappuram district.
According to the WHO, Nipah virus is a newly emerging disease that can be transmitted from its reservoir (natural wildlife host), the flying foxes (fruit bats), to both animals and humans.
It takes its name from Sungai Nipah, a village in Malaysia where it was first identified.
Human infections can range from asymptomatic infection, acute respiratory infection (mild, severe), and fatal encephalitis.
Infected people initially develop influenza-like symptoms of fever, headache, myalgia, vomiting and sore throat. This can be followed by dizziness, drowsiness, altered consciousness and neurological signs that indicate acute encephalitis.
Some people can also experience atypical pneumonia and severe respiratory problems, including acute respiratory distress. Encephalitis and seizures occur in severe cases, progressing to coma within 24 to 48 hours.
This article originally appeared in onmanorama.