After the death of a 12-year-old boy due to the Nipah virus in Kerala’s Kozhikode district on Sunday, 5 September, the Karnataka government has stepped up surveillance for the disease in its border districts. Officials have been directed to monitor travellers from Kerala at Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, Mysuru, Kodagu, and Chamarajanagara districts of Karnataka.
Karnataka Health Minister Dr Sudhakar K has also tweeted the guidelines. “In the wake of confirmed Nipah virus cases being reported in Kerala, it has been decided to strengthen the surveillance and preparedness in Karnataka with a special focus in the districts bordering Kerala,” he said.
An advisory issued by the state government has directed district administration officials to monitor travellers for symptoms like fever, altered mental status, severe weakness, headache, respiratory distress, cough, vomiting, muscle pain, convulsion, and diarrhoea. It also states that a surveillance system must be put in place to identify encephalitis clusters, which can lead to the early detection of a Nipah virus outbreak.
The advisory also states that samples from those suspected to be infected with the virus at the border districts, along with those of their contacts, are to be sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune to confirm the infection. District administrations have also been instructed to submit daily reports of the same, even if no cases are found.
Meanwhile in Kerala, the samples of eight close contacts of the deceased child have come out as negative, Kerala Health Minister Veena George said on Tuesday, 7 September.
This includes the parents of the boy and symptomatic health workers who initially treated him. About 257 people have been categorised as contacts of the child. About 21 people among these are presently lodged at the Nipah ward in Kozhikode medical college. This is the third time that the Nipah virus infection has been reported in Kerala. The first instance was in 2018 in Kozhikode district, when the infection took the lives of 17 people. The following year, a 23-year-old youth in Kerala’s Ernakulam district was found positive and recovered after treatment. No one else contracted the disease from him.
(Published in an arrangement with The News Minute)