In the latest in a deadly outbreak of Nipah virus infections in Kerala, India, a 24-year-old healthcare worker who was exposed to a Nipah patient has tested positive, according to the Hindustan Times and other media sources. The newest infection in Kozhikode district raises the outbreak total to five cases, two of which have proved fatal.
Officials are tracking as many as 706 people on the contact list, with 77 listed as high risk and 153 as healthcare workers who are not in the high-risk category. The government has advised high-risk contacts to remain inside their homes, and 13 people are hospitalized under observation with mild symptoms, NewsBytes reports.
Avian Flu Diary, an infectious disease blog, says tests on 11 people are pending.
Young boy in ICU
Kerala Health Minister Veena George said officials have ordered monoclonal antibody therapy to treat a 9-year-old boy with Nipah who is on a ventilator in the intensive care unit in Kozhikode district. It is the only available antiviral treatment for Nipah virus infection, though it has not been clinically proven, George said.
"We have ordered the monoclonal antibody with the ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) and it would be brought to Kozhikode soon. The imported medicine is already available with the ICMR," she said.
We are focusing on tracing contacts of infected persons early and isolating anyone with symptoms.
The outbreak, which began August 30, is Kerala's fourth Nipah outbreak since 2018 and has resulted in authorities' declaring containment zones in at least eight Kozhikode villages.
"We are focusing on tracing contacts of infected persons early and isolating anyone with symptoms," George told reporters. She said the virus detected in Kerala is the same as one confirmed earlier in Bangladesh, and it spreads from human to human with a high death rate but is typically less infectious.