The state government of Kerala said a case of Nipah virus infection is suspected in a student in Kochi, but a Pune-based virology laboratory is yet to confirm the initial diagnosis.
The student is from Thodupuzha in Idukki district, studies in Kochi, and spent 4 days in Thrissur when he was sick (May 16-20).
Thrissur’s district medical officer said her department has tracked down 50 people who came into contact with the college student over the four days in Thrissur.
“None of them are showing any signs as of now,” she said. Similar efforts are on in Idukki and Ernakulam districts, she added.
Isolation wards have been set up in major medical colleges, including those in Thrissur, Kozhikode, Kalamassery and Kochi.
The DMO also said it takes 7-14 days for symptoms to show up in infected persons, and one has to be in “watchful expectancy” for 28 days.
Symptoms of Nipah include fever, headache, vomiting, fits and so on.
The DMO also said that the boy visited two private clinics in Thrissur and that efforts are on to track down the people that he may have come into contact in these clinics.
Meanwhile state health minister KK Shailaja said an initial examination showed that it could be Nipah virus, and that further tests results are awaited from National Virology Institute, Pune.
An outbreak of Nipah killed 17 people in Kerala last year. It is believed that it was caused by the consumption of infected dates imported from abroad during the Ramzan season.
Last year, the second victim — the brother of the first victim — started showing symptoms only seven days after the first case was detected. By then, the first victim had already passed away.
Some people are able to withstand the infection naturally, while most people die.
Initial symptoms are fever, headache, drowsiness followed by disorientation and mental confusion. The victim can pass into a coma within two days.
Prevention is by avoiding exposure to bats and sick pigs and not drinking raw date palm sap