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Those who came into contact with Nipah victim test negative, says Health Minister

Thiruvananthapuram: ‘The samples of eight people who came in contact with a 12-year-old boy who died of Nipah virus infection in Kerala has returned negative,’ state Health Minister Veena George said today. Samples were sent to the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune. ‘It’s a big relief the samples have turned out negative,’ the Health Minister said.

Five more samples are being tested at Kozhikode Medical College, which has built a testing lab for Nipah in cooperation with NIV.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Nipah virus infection in humans can present as asymptomatic infection, acute respiratory infection, or fatal encephalitis. The case fatality rate of 40 percent to 75 percent is estimated, and this rate varies according to local epidemiological surveillance and clinical management capabilities, the WHO says.

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A total of 48 high-risk contacts, including the eight who got tested, are admitted to Kozhikode Medical College – 31 residents of Kozhikode, four in Wayanad, eight in Malappuram, and one in Palakkad. Ms George said the sample-testing for these is likely to be completed today. Kerala is receiving technical assistance from the National Center for Disease Control, a central government agency.

Kozhikode reported the first Nipah virus disease outbreak in south India in May 2018.

The Nipah virus can be transmitted to humans from animals such as bats or pigs, or from contaminated food. It can also be transmitted directly from person to person. According to the Nipah virus information resource on the WHO website, fruit bats are the natural hosts of Nipah virus. There is no treatment or vaccine available for either humans or animals. The primary form of treatment for humans is supportive care.


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