Health officials in Kozhikode and Malappuram, districts most affected by the Nipah virus infection in Kerala, appear confident that the outbreak has been controlled, exactly a month after the first suspected casualty was reported. A total of 16 people have succumbed to the infection so far, excluding 23-year-old Mohammad Sabith, considered the ‘index’ case who passed away on May 5. Since his samples were never sent for testing, the cause of his death could not be established. With the last casualty being reported on May 30 and no new cases till now, officials say the virus scare has been averted to a large extent.
“We have seven patients currently in the Medical College Hospital, out of whom only two are positive. But their situation is much better and they are recovering fast. They have not been discharged yet,” said V Jayasree, the District Medical Officer (DMO) in Kozhikode.
“The remaining five patients are showing symptoms of encephalitis, but their fluid samples have come back negative for Nipah. They are under treatment,” she added.
With the incubation period of the virus ranging from 4-21 days, health officials say they will remain alert till June 30 to check for any new cases. Meanwhile, field staff of the health department and ASHA workers are monitoring those on the surveillance list through telephone, asking them about their condition and if they experience any symptoms associated with encephalitis.
“We have a 42-day screening process for those on the surveillance list. So we will continue monitoring them till the second week of July to completely ensure there are no new cases,” Jayasree said.
If no new positive cases emerge till July, it can be safely established that the state has been freed of the viral infection, officials said.
The district administration, meanwhile, denied reports of the Perambra Taluk Hospital being renamed after nurse Lini PN, who contracted the virus from Sabith and passed away days later.