On Wednesday, Kerala closed schools, offices, and public transit to stop the spread of the uncommon and deadly Nipah virus, which has killed two people.
More than 700 people were being tested for the virus, which is carried by contact with bats, pigs, or people, a state health official said. Two adults and a kid were remained in the hospital.
On Wednesday evening, the state government reported that 706 people, including 153 health personnel, were being tested for Nipah virus. Awaiting results.
“More people could be tested…I solace facilities will be provided,” Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said. He requested a 10-day ban on public gatherings in Kozhikode.
In Kerala’s fourth epidemic since 2018, two people have died since Aug. 30, prompting containment zones in at least eight Kozhikode villages.
State Health Minister Veena George told reporters, “We are focusing on tracing contacts of infected persons early and isolating anyone with symptoms.”
She claimed the virus found in Kerala was the same as in Bangladesh, a form that passes from person to person and kills quickly but is less virulent.
State epidemiologists were treating three sick patients, including a medical worker, with antivirals and monoclonal antibodies. “Public movement has been restricted in parts of the state to contain the medical crisis,” she said.
Medical professionals are quarantined after interaction with the afflicted.
The first victim was a small landholder growing bananas and areca nuts in Maruthonkara, Kozhikode, a government official said. He traced his movements to find out who he met and where he went before his health declined.
The infected victim’s daughter and brother-in-law are in an isolation unit, while family and neighbors are tested.
The official, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said the second death occurred after medical contact with the first victim. The two were not related.
In 1999, Malaysian and Singaporean pig farmers and others in close contact with the animals contracted the Nipah virus.
Occasionally, South Asians have contracted the disease by drinking bat-contaminated date-palm sap.
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Maruthonkara, the first victim’s hometown, sits near a 300-acre bat forest. Fruit bats from the same location tested positive for Nipah in 2018.
The first Nipah outbreak in Kerala killed 21 of 23 persons. Outbreaks in 2019 and 2021 killed two.
Kerala visitors to Tamil Nadu will be tested and quarantined if they have flu.
In May Reuters study found that Kerala is among the most at risk for bat virus epidemics due to deforestation and urbanization, which have pushed people and wildlife closer together.