Nipah virus in Kerala: Former Health Minister K K Shailaja shares updates says ‘Situation not as scary as in 2018’

Nipah virus in Kerala: Former Health Minister K K Shailaja shares updates says ‘Situation not as scary as in 2018’
Nipah virus in Kerala: Former Health Minister K K Shailaja shares updates says ‘Situation not as scary as in 2018’

Nipah in Kerala: With India on high alert after a resurgence of the potentially deadly Nipah virus (NiV), which has killed at least two people in recent days. The virus strain seen in the state was the Bangladesh variant that spreads from human to human and has a high mortality rate, though it is less infectious.

Now Former Health Minister and senior ruling CPI(M) MLA K K Shailaja has shared an update saying that the state has nothing to worry about the Nipah outbreak in Kozhikode as the situation is not as scary as it was in 2018.

In 2018, Shailaja, had won accolades for containing the Nipah infection effectively. She said that the southern state has a protocol and Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to effectively fight the infection and prevent its spread. Shaiaja was the Health minister in the previous LDF government, which fought the first Nipah outbreak in the state.

“In 2018, it was a new virus to us, and we did not have any experience battling such an infection. Now, we have everything in place to contain it effectively,” Shailaja told reporters as reported by PTI.

She said Nipah testing facilities have been established in the state but the declaration of virus infection can only be made by the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune. “We have the facility. We tried it out during the first bout in 2018 at Kozhikode. But the declaration can only be made by NIV, Pune,” the senior CPI(M) MLA said.

She said during the COVID-19 outbreak, the state government had taken special permission from the central government to declare COVID results from the virology lab at Alappuzha.

The central team visited Alappuzha, did the test themselves, and permitted Kerala to release the results, the former health minister said as quoted by PTI.

“When COVID spread got to its peak, we got permission to conduct the tests at the Medical College labs and to release the results. As far as Nipah is concerned, we can release the results only if we get special permission from the Central Government,” Shailaja added.

What is Nipah Virus and its symptoms?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Nipah virus is caused by fruit bats and is potentially fatal to humans as well as animals. The Nipah virus was first identified in 1999 during an outbreak of illness among pig farmers and others in close contact with the animals in Malaysia and Singapore. The transmission of this virus to humans can also happen from infected people through close physical contact, especially by contact with body fluids. The transmission can happen through drinking of raw date palm sap, contaminated by bat urine or saliva, has also been identified.

Speaking of its symptoms, the virus cause respiratory illnesses, fever, headache, cough, muscular pain, headache, fever, dizziness, and nausea.

Schools in Kerala closed

In the wake to stop the spread of the rare and deadly Nipah virus, which has killed two people, Kerala shut some schools, offices, and public transport on Wednesday. The state government on Wednesday evening said at least 706 people, including 153 health workers, were undergoing tests to check the spread of the virus. While the outbreak this time took place in Kozhikode, minister Veena George said the entire Kerala is prone to getting such infections according to WHO and ICMR studies. The neighbouring Tamil Nadu state has also announced that travellers coming from Kerala would be subjected to medical tests and those with flu symptoms would be isolated.

(With inputs from PTI)

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Updated: 14 Sep 2023, 01:00 PM IST

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