Alert after 12-year-old boy dies of Nipah; two with symptoms isolated

A Central team from the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) is rushing to Kozhikode where three state ministers are already camping to take stock of the situation

The first Nipah virus disease (NiV) outbreak in South India was reported in Kerala in 2018

A 12-year-old boy in Kozhikode, Kerala, has died of Nipah, state Health Minister Veena George confirmed on Sunday. He was in a hospital. It is not known yet how the boy contracted the disease. Samples sent to the Pune National Institute of Virology detected the presence of the virus.

Two more persons with Nipah symptoms have been isolated at a hospital in Kozhikode. Meanwhile, a dedicated Nipah ward and a control room have been set up at the Kozhikode Medical College. A route map of the deceased boy, being prepared on a war-footing, has traced at least 158 people, of whom at least 20 are high risk.

“The boy was taken to a private clinic first and then brought to Government Medical College , Kozhikode. After that he was taken to another private hospital,” the minister said.

A central team from the National Centre for Disease Control is in Kozhikode where four state ministers are already camping to take stock of the situation.

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The boy, who was brought to the hospital four days ago with fever and meningitis, died at 5am on Sunday (September 5). Media reports also say the boy recently recovered from COVID and was taken to hospital when the fever did not subside.

The boy’s parents, doctors and nurses who treated the boy, have also been quarantined and all roads leading to Chathamangalam, where the case was detected, have been cordoned off. The adjacent wards have also been sealed to prevent possible spread of the disease.

Also read: The anatomy of Nipah virus 2.0 — the Kerala battle

“Unfortunately, the boy passed away at 5am. The condition of the child was critical on Saturday night. We formed various teams and have started the tracing. Steps have been taken to isolate those who were the primary contacts of the boy,” George told reporters.

“There is nothing to worry about. The health department is closely monitoring the situation. Special officers have been posted and special teams were formed. The patient was first taken to a private hospital, then to the medical college and from there again shifted to a private hospital. So we have traced all his contacts. The friends he played within his locality, his cousins and others, the health department had completed the identification and tracing of all these contacts,” George said.

The minister also asked the neighbouring Kannur and Malappuram districts to stay cautious. Police have cordoned off an area of three-km radius around the house f the boy.

Pressing into action, the state government will hold a high-level meeting of health officials and experts.

The Central team is expected to provide technical support to the state. Some immediate public health measures have been advised by the Centre which includes active case search in the family, families, village and areas with similar topography.

The measures also include active contact tracing for any contacts in the past 12 days, strict quarantine of the contacts and isolation of any suspects and collection and transportation of samples for lab testing.

Nipah virus is spread by saliva of the fruit bats. In 2018 also, there was a Nipah outbreak in Kozhikode and Malappuram districts of Kerala.

The state had witnessed 17 deaths and 18 confirmed cases till June 1, 2018.

(The article is being updated. Stay tuned for all updates)

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