After 311 people were placed under observation for Nipah virus in neighbouring Kerala, public health authorities in Tamil Nadu have stepped up surveillance measures in the state.
Talking to The Federal, Dr K Kolandasamy, director of public health, Tamil Nadu said surveillance of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES), Influenza-like Illness (ILI) and Acute Febrile Illness is found to be very useful in early detection of cases.
“We are taking samples of AES fever cases and are testing them for Japanese encephalitis, malaria, leptospirosis and dengue. If all these basic fever tests are negative, we send the tests to advanced laboratory like King Institute for further diagnosis. This is how the Kerala government diagnosed Nipah Virus fever last year,” he said.
He said that AES is a serious condition and the patients are treated as inpatients. “We are being notified on AES cases by all major hospitals in the case. We take preventive action in all the areas where the cases have been reported—rectification of water supply, overall improvement in sanitation and hygiene and fogging measures. We have also told doctors that for cases of fever, they have to seek the travel history of the patient. The animal husbandry department is also keeping a close watch on infections being reported in pigs,” Kolandasamy said.
In Coimbatore district that borders Palakkad district of Kerala, health camps are being conducted in eight check posts where people reporting fever are being examined. The health camps have individual medical officers appointed to supervise cases. Dr Bhanumathi, deputy director of health services, Coimbatore said, “We have a 24-hour health camp happening at the Palakkad check post alone. We have not had many fever admission cases across the government facilities in the district. However, we have conducted orientation programmes for doctors at the district hospital and in primary health centres.”
Nipah Virus is a zoonotic disease and humans are infected after direct contact with infected bats, infected pigs, or from other Nipah Virus-infected people. Fruit bats, also known as ‘ﬂying foxes,’ of the genus Pteropus are natural reservoir hosts of the Nipah and Hendra Virus present in bat urine and potentially, bat faeces, saliva, and birthing ﬂuids contaminate fruit and transmit the infection.
Last year, there were 17 Nipah Virus deaths reported in Kerala.