Nipah virus outbreak localised occurrence: Health Ministry

All required steps have been taken to contain the Nipah virus in Kerala, whose outbreak is a localised occurrence and there is no threat of its spread and thus no need to panic, the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry said.

"Appropriate steps to contain this virus have been taken ... Since all the contacts are under observation and steps to avoid exposure through animal vectors have been taken, there is no reason for people to panic. This appears to be a localised occurrence," it said.

Nipah virus, spread by fruit bats that infects both animals and humans, has claimed the lives of two brothers and their aunt in Perambara of Kozhikode district within a few weeks, and now nine more people are under close observation. However, the toll in Kerala, as on Tuesday, reached 10.

The ministry said "the outbreak is unlikely to spread" as early and efficient containment measures have been jointly undertaken both by itself and the Kerala government.

"The Virus Research Diagnostic Laboratory at Manipal Hospital and the National Institute of Virology, a premier institute for research in virology, are geared up to meet any diagnostic challenges that may arise," it said.

Union Health Minister J. P. Nadda, who reviewed the matter with Health Secretary Preeti Sudan and Indian Council of Medical Research Director General Balram Bhargava, is closely monitoring the situation arising out of reported cases and deaths due to virus in Kerala, it said.

As per Nadda's directions, a multi-disciplinary Central team from National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) is presently in Kerala. The team visited the house in Perambra from where the initial death was reported. 

"The team found many bats housed in the well from where the family was drawing water. Some bats have been caught and have been sent for lab examination to confirm whether they are the cause of the disease or not," said the ministry.

Nadda has urged the citizens not to believe in rumours posted on social media and not to spread panic. 

Isolation wards have been opened in many hospitals in Kozhikode. Hospitals in public and private sector have been provided with personal protective equipment, it said. 

The Ministry has ensured availability of diagnostic kits, personal protective equipment and risk communication materials. High quality personal protection equipment has been provided to health care personnel. 

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Source: IANS