Nipah Virus Outbreak: 9 States at Risk, Kerala Situation Under Control


Kerala Health Minister Veena George has stated that nine Indian states, including Kerala, are at risk of Nipah virus outbreaks, according to studies conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The recent Nipah outbreak in Kerala has been linked to bats, with extensive surveillance confirming their role as the source of infection. The Nipah virus strain identified in Kerala is the Indian Genotype (I Genotype), similar to the strain found in Bangladesh.

However, Minister Veena George emphasized that the Nipah outbreak in Kerala is under control. Rigorous surveillance efforts have traced and categorized 1,233 contacts as high-risk or low-risk. Notably, all four patients receiving treatment are now stable, with a nine-year-old boy showing clinical improvement after ventilator support.

Kerala has implemented a round-the-clock control room and deployed 19 teams in the field, effectively following containment protocols. The Central teams working with the Kerala health department have commended their efforts in containing the outbreak.

A strict protocol has been in place in Kozhikode since 2018, which includes a testing lab at the Medical College and a “one health program” aimed at better convergence of departments to combat infectious disease outbreaks. Kerala is also planning to establish a One Health Institute in Kozhikode to enhance collaboration among departments.

Regarding travel restrictions, Minister Veena George clarified that there is no ban on travel to Kerala or Kozhikode. Containment zones are designated within a five-kilometer radius of reported Nipah cases, with movement restrictions imposed only in those specific areas.

Contact tracing has been challenging, as some individuals initially withhold information about their interactions with positive patients. To address this issue, the government sought the help of the police department to confirm locations through mobile tower analysis.

In total, six cases of Nipah infection have been confirmed in Kerala, with two fatalities and four patients under treatment. Despite the challenges, Kerala remains vigilant and well-prepared to respond to infectious disease outbreaks like Nipah.