NIV Teams Head to Kerala for Bangladesh Variant Nipah:
Teams from the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune are on their way to Kerala to establish a mobile laboratory at Kozhikode Medical College for Nipah testing and bat surveys. The move follows the confirmation of Nipah infection in four individuals in Kozhikode district.
The State Health Minister, Veena George, disclosed in the assembly that the Virus strain observed in Kerala is the Bangladesh variant, which is transmissible from human to human and has a high mortality rate, although it is less contagious. Additionally, epidemiologists from Chennai will join the efforts.
Furthermore, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has agreed to supply the necessary monoclonal antibodies for virus patient treatment.
George outlined various measures taken by the Health Department to contain the spread of the Nipah virus, including surveillance, contact tracing, categorization of risk levels, isolation facilities, containment zones, and medication procurement from ICMR.
During the assembly session, opposition leaders emphasized the need for updated Nipah treatment protocols and better data collection and training for healthcare workers. The Health Minister explained that the state’s labs can confirm Nipah but lack permission to declare cases, a prerogative held by (NIV) National Institute of Virology, Pune.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan highlighted the capabilities of the Institute of Advanced Virology at Thonnakkal and questioned why samples were not sent there for testing. George reiterated that the existing treatment protocols, issued in 2018 during the previous Nipah outbreak and updated in 2021, have not raised concerns, but changes would be made if necessary.
The Health Minister assured effective contact tracing and containment efforts, designating seven village panchayats in Kozhikode district as containment zones. Vijayan urged the public to follow health and police instructions and cooperate with restrictions to prevent panic.
One of the infected individuals is a nine-year-old boy, while the initial death on August 30 was initially attributed to liver cirrhosis comorbidity. However, the subsequent positive cases include the boy, who is in ICU, and his 24-year-old brother-in-law, detected on Tuesday.