Centre says Nipah outbreak is 'localised occurrence'

Centre says Nipah outbreak is 'localised occurrence'

Hospital staff and family members of the patients admitted at the Kozhikode Medical College wear safety masks as a precautionary measure after the 'Nipah' virus outbreak, in Kozhikode, on Monday. PTI Photo

The Union health ministry on Tuesday describe the Nipah cases in Kerala as "localised occurrence" even as fear about the deadly viral infection spreads to many parts of north Kerala and southern Karnataka.

While visiting the house in Perambra in Kozhikode district from where the initial death was reported, a central team found many bats were housed in the well from where the family was drawing water.

The team suspects contamination of the water with bat saliva or urine in the same way previous outbreaks happened in Bangladesh.

The central team collected 60 samples from the spot and sent them for investigation. Some bats have been caught and have been sent for lab examination to confirm whether they are the cause of the disease or not. The well has already been sealed by the authorities.

"This appears to be a localised occurrence," the ministry said in a statement.

Health Minister J P Nadda, who reviewed the Nipah situation with health secretary and ICMR chief asked the citizens not to believe in rumours posted on social media and not to spread panic.

A scientific analysis of 18 Nipah outbreaks in India and Bangladesh between January 2001 and January 2013, showed that in three occasions each of the infected persons died and in five occasions, more than 80% infected individuals died. Only in two instances, the case fatality was less than 40%.

The ministry has mobilised a team from the Kozhikode branch of National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to assess the extent of problem and risk management. They assist the state level team deployed at the epicenter.

The NCDC field team advised hospitals to follow intra-cranial pressure guidelines that are used to treat traumatic brain injury patients. The health workers are being advised to use personal protective equipment even for sample collection.

The NCDC team would assist the state officials in every way to contain the outbreak, manage the existing case and curbing the fear psychosis.

"Hospitals in public and private sector have been provided with personal protective equipment. Appropriate steps to contain this virus have been taken among domestic animals such as pigs. Since all the contacts are under observation and steps to avoid exposure through animal vectors have been taken there is no reason for people to panic," the ministry said.

India witnessed two incidences of Nipah outbreaks, both occurring in West Bengal. In the first instance in Siliguri, out of 66 infected individuals, as many as 45 died with a fatality rate of 68%. In the second instance, each of five infected individuals in Nadia district were killed by the deadly virus.