Kochi: As fear grips Kerala after a case of Nipah virus infection was confirmed in Kochi, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that measures will be taken to conduct studies to find out the reason for the second outbreak of the virus in the state.
"The source of the Nipah virus and the reason why we have had a second outbreak has to be probed and for that, the Centre has to provide necessary support. We will be asking the Kerala Animal Husbandry, Forest Agriculture and Health Department to study about bats, believed to be the carriers of the virus," said Pinarayi.
Around 355 people are at present under observation in Thrissur, Ernakulam, Thiruvananthapuram.
Early in the day, samples of six patients tested negative, while a youth tested Nipah positive was recovering at a private hospital in Ernakulam.
Health Minister K K Shailaja said there was no need to panic as the situation was under control. All those who were tested negative were in direct contact with the youth who tested Nipah positive early this week, Shailaja said.
"All these patients are under observation and continue to be in the isolation ward of a hospital. The youth who tested positive is also recovering well," said Shailaja.
Stating that high alert across the state will continue. she said whenever necessary, samples of suspects would be sent to the laboratories, including the National Institute of Virology, Pune.
"I am told two people who came seeking treatment for fever at the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College are under observation and their samples would be sent for testing," said Shailaja. The hospital had stock of special medicine for Nipah patients, she added.
"Two of our doctors have got training from the Indian Council of Medical Research in administering this medicine, which has come from Australia. For the administration of this medicine, doctors will have to seek permission of the patient's relatives," said Shailaja.
The youth, confirmed with the Nipah virus, is from Paravur in the Ernakulam district. He was studying in Idukki's Thodupuzha. Last month, he came with 16 classmates for a student internship in Thrissur and later developed fever.
The Minister said a team of experts were trying to identify the source of virus by visiting places the youth belongs to and visited.
According to state government figures, the Nipah virus had claimed 17 lives – 14 in Kozhikode and three in neighbouring Malappuram in May last year.
According to the World Health Organisation, Nipah virus is a newly emerging disease that can be transmitted from its reservoir (natural wildlife host), the flying foxes (fruit bats), to both animals and humans.
Symptoms range from asymptomatic infection, acute respiratory infection and encephalitis.
Infected people initially develop influenza-like symptoms of fever, headache, vomiting and sore throat.
This can be followed by dizziness, drowsiness, altered consciousness, and neurological signs that indicate acute encephalitis.
(With inputs from IANS, PTI)