The government of Kerala issued a high alert on Monday after the 23-year-old patient admitted in an isolation ward in Ernakulam district found positive for the deadly Nipah virus.
The news has triggered panic in the state, where the virus which has no vaccine and can spread through human-to-human transmission, claimed 17 lives in 2018, including a nurse who treated one of the infected patients.
Approx 85 people, who were in contact with the victim, are under surveillance at their homes. The government has set up isolation wards in hospitals with all facilities including ventilators, to be ready to face an outbreak of the virus.
State health minister KK Shailaja said in a statement:
“If anyone has a chance to contract it, we are keeping systems in place to immediately isolate and treat them. We are acting under the direction of the CM. He has asked us to make all necessary arrangements.”
Nipah virus (Henipavirus) is a zoonotic virus (it is transmitted from animals to humans) and can also be transmitted through contaminated food or directly between people. In infected people, it causes a range of illnesses from asymptomatic (subclinical) infection to acute respiratory illness and fatal encephalitis. The virus can also cause severe disease in animals such as pigs.