Nipah virus: Harsh Vardhan reviews public health measures, says situation under control

New DelhiUpdated: Jun 06, 2019, 09:29 AM IST

File photo: Union Minister Harsh Vardhan. Photograph:(PTI)

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The key focus of Wednesday's review meeting was updating of contact list (line listing with contact details), daily follow-up for symptoms and self-monitoring, the health ministry said in a statement.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, who reviewed the public health measures put in place in Kerala after a college student tested positive for Nipah virus, Wednesday said the situation is under control and people need not panic.

The 21-year-old college student's case is this year's first in Kerala. Last year, Nipah virus killed 17 people in the state.

"I urge the people not to panic as the government is leaving no stone unturned to remedy the situation. I am personally reviewing the situation with Health Minister of Kerala, K K Shailaja, on a regular basis,"Vardhan said.

The key focus of Wednesday's review meeting was updating of contact list (line listing with contact details), daily follow-up for symptoms and self-monitoring, the health ministry said in a statement.

The team also discussed SOPs for quarantine of symptomatic contacts, sample collection or testing and dedicated isolation facility with trained health staff for care of cases and epidemiological investigation by multi-disciplinary central team to ascertain the possible source of infection and history of exposure.

The Centre had on Tuesday rushed a six-member team comprising an epidemiologist to Kerala to conduct contact tracing for early detection of suspects and review of isolation facilities.

The team also stressed on the need for proper record-keeping in the district control room with daily sharing of information, the statement stated.

A designated control room has been established at the district collector's office and an isolation ward has been established at Government Medical College Ernakulam, the statement said.

Isolation facilities have also been ensured at Medical Colleges at Calicut, Thrissur and Kottayam, it said.

All healthcare facilities have been asked to ensure high index of suspicion in cases with similar symptoms and also ensure availability of isolation and emergency management facilities before referral, the ministry said.

The statement said that the condition of the college student, a resident of Paravur, is now stable and a total of 314 contacts are being followed up on daily basis.

Five symptomatic contacts have been admitted in quarantine facility at the medical college and samples have been sent for testing, it said.

According to the statement, the student got fever on May 23 when he was in district Thrissur. He visited a physician there but returned to his family in Ernakulum as he had high fever.

"He consulted a private hospital in Ernakulum on May 25 and was treated with antibiotics. He was referred to another private hospital on night of May 30 as he developed slight disorientation and gait imbalance," it said.

"Throat swab, CSF blood and urine samples were sent to the National institute of Virology Alapuzha on June 2 which tested Nipah positive. The patient is stable, conscious and oriented at present. All three other family members are healthy," it added.

According to the World Health Organisation (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.

Symptoms 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 a typical pneumonia and severe respiratory problems, including acute respiratory distress.

Encephalitis and seizures occur in severe cases, progressing to coma within 24 to 48 hours.