Six people suspected of infection with the Nipah virus have been given the all-clear as containment efforts continue.
Authorities confirmed a second outbreak of the disease in the state of Kerala after a 23-year-old college student tested positive for the virus during an initial examination. The aftermath saw a swift response by state health authorities, led by Health Minister K. K. Shailaja. 314 people are being kept under observation after coming into contact with the infected individual, whose condition is reported to be stable at the time of writing.
Six individuals – including a nurse, nursing assistant, and friends and a relative of the student – have since tested negatively for the virus in what will likely come as a relief to the Kerala state government, suggesting that containment efforts thus far are bearing fruit. This much has been supported by Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, who has said the situation is under control after reviewing measures implemented by the state health department.
Last year, an outbreak of the Nipah virus in Kerala claimed seventeen lives and sparked widespread panic. Some feared a disease outbreak on the scale of the Ebola virus. However, the affected Kozhikode and Malappuram districts were subsequently declared free of the virus. The response of the state health department was widely credited behind getting the outbreak under control. There is cause to be hopeful that this year will see a similarly strong response.
At present, isolation facilities have been established at four medical colleges and a control room at the office of the District Collector. The Union Health Ministry is supporting control efforts, with Vardhan pledging his support to Shailaja. The Centre has dispatched six medical officers to the state. Seven people are being treated in the isolation ward at the time of writing.
Kerala prepared itself this year in advance of a potential outbreak of the Nipah virus following on from last year’s outbreak. It so far seems that preparatory efforts are bearing fruit.