Nipah virus outbreak in Kozhikode: Increased surveillance in Karnataka districts bordering Kerala

Published : September 07, 2021 19:12 IST

People in protective suits prepare to cremate the body of a 12-year-old boy who died of the Nipah virus in Kozhikode, Kerala, on September 5. Photo: AP


A health advisory issued by the government of Karnataka today states that it “is imperative to strengthen the surveillance and preparedness” because of the confirmed cases of Nipah virus in Kerala. This increased surveillance will be observed in the Karnataka districts bordering Kerala, including Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, Mysuru, Kodagu and Chamarajanagar. The advisory says that these district administrations should implement strict measures to ensure the well-being of residents of Karnataka. These measures include monitoring arrivals from Kerala for symptoms such as fever, altered mental status, severe weakness, headache, respiratory distress, cough, vomiting, muscle pain, convulsions and diarrhea.

The advisory also suggests that “a systematic surveillance system” be put in place as this will help in identifying “clusters of encephalitis cases resulting in early detection of Nipah outbreaks” in these districts. Considering that there is still no treatment available to treat persons infected with the Nipah virus, the advisory suggests that “Ribavirin, an antiviral may have a role in reducing mortality among patients with encephalitis caused by Nipah virus disease” along with intensive support care with treatment of symptoms that will help in managing the infection. The advisory describes the Nipah virus infection “as an emerging zoonotic disease”.

The advisory was issued earlier today. Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said: “I have asked experts to get more information on this [Nipah virus] and advise me on what steps should be taken.” A 12-year-old boy died after contracting the Nipah virus in Kozhikode in Kerala on September 3. In 2018, 17 people died in Kerala after an outbreak of the virus.

K.V. Rajendra, Deputy Commissioner of Dakshina Kannada district, also issued an alert appealing to the people to remain cautious. In a statement, he said: “Since Dakshina Kannada district shares its border with Kerala and a large number of people commute for health and education purposes, a Nipah alert has been announced.”