Nipah virus: Don't travel to Kozhikode, Kannur; TN, Kerala govt on alert

Two more people suspected to be infected by #NipahVirus have died today in Kozhikode Medical College hospital. Both were being treated in the isolation ward. Samples sent for tests. #Kerala. (Photo: ANI)
Amid the outbreak of the Nipah virus, the Kerala government on Wednesday asked travellers to avoid visiting four northern districts of the state -- Kozhikode, Malappuram, Wayanad and Kannur. In an advisory issued by Health Secretary Rajeev Sadanandan, it was stated that travelling to any part of Kerala was safe. But if travellers wished to be extra cautious, they may avoid the four districts, it said.

"A few cases of infection by Nipah virus have been reported from Kozhikode district in Kerala. The infection remains highly localised, all cases being linked to one family," the advisory said. Surveillance by the government is being conducted in Kozhikode district, from where most of the cases were reported, and in the neighbouring districts of Malappuram, Wayanad and Kannur, it said. "The Health department is taking effective steps for management of reported cases and surveillance through tracing of the contact of these persons. The situation remains under control," the advisory said.

Meanwhile, 2,000 Ribavirin tablets, an antiviral medicine, have already reached Kozhikode. Another batch of 8,000 tablets are expected to be delivered later in the day, Health department sources said. Ten persons have died of Nipah virus so far in Kozhikode and Malappuram districts. Two more persons who died of high fever are suspected to have contracted the virus. Nipah virus (NiV) infection is a newly emerging zoonosis that causes severe disease in both animals and humans. The natural host of the virus are fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family, Pteropus genus.

Here are the top developments in the Nipah virus outbreak in Southern India:

1. Karnataka on alert: As the Nipah virus outbreak continues to wreak havoc in Kerala, neighbouring state Karnataka is taking precautionary steps to ensure safety and necessary preparations in their respective states. 

Karnataka government directed eight of its districts to submit a 'daily outbreak report'. Some of these districts are on the Karnataka-Kerala border. 

The Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme of the Directorate of Health and Family Welfare Services said those travelling to Nipah affected areas should be screened for 18 days.

2. Others taking precautions: Telangana health department is on alert against the Nipah virus, Telangana health minister C Laxma Reddy said on Tuesday. The state government has spoken to the National Centre for Disease Control ((NCDC) in Delhi, Manipal Centre for Virulogy and Research (MCVR) and National Institute of Virulogy in Pune for tests to determine Nipah, he said.

The government is setting up special wards with five-eight beds in the state-run Osmania, Gandhi, Niloufer and Fever Hospitals in Hyderabad and MGM hospital in Warangal.

Similarly, Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy said on Tuesday that all precautionary measures have been taken in the Union Territory following the outbreak of Nipah virus in Kozhikode district of Kerala.

3. Nipah virus situation under control, Union Health Minister: The union health minister J P Nadda on Tuesday asked the people not to "panic" and said the outbreak was "unlikely" to spread as early and efficient containment measures were being taken.

Nadda reviewed the situation in Kerala with union health secretary Preeti Sudan and Director General, ICMR, Balram Bhargava, and directed the officials to extend all support to the Kerala government in its prevention and management.

4. Special ward opened in Coimbatore: A special ward has been opened in the Coimbatore Medical College Hospital as a precautionary measure in the wake of the outbreak of Nipah virus in Kozhikode district of Kerala.

A special medical team has also been stationed at Walayar on the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border to contain the virus from spreading as a number of people keep coming to the city from various places in Kerala, particularly Palakkad, Malappuram and Kozhikode, reported PTI.

5. BRD doc on bail to work with Nipah patients: Dr Kafeel Khan, who is one of the accused in BRD medical college case in which several children died last August, offered his services to the Kerala government to work with Nipah virus patients. The Kerala government has accepted his demand.

6. 12 die in Kerala, 10 deaths confirmed to be from Nipah: As many as 12 people have lost their lives since the outbreak of Nipah in Kerala out of which 10 died of Nipah infection, the health department has confirmed according to PTI reports.

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