How Did Kerala, A Small Indian State, Contain Nipah Infection To One Death
Nipah is a deadly virus with a fatality rate ranging between 40–75%. On 4th September 2021, a 12-year-old boy’s samples were tested positive for Nipah in the Kozhikode district of Kerala — who later succumbed to the infection.
This notorious virus has claimed 17 lives in 2018 and 1 in 2021 in the state. As of now, 140 people who were in close contact with the boy have tested negative. Fortunately, the Government and the healthcare officials were able to contain the contamination to one person.
How did they do that?
Unlike in 2018, they were prepared to take the measures to fight Nipah. Let’s look at the eight measures that Kerala took to prevent the spreading of Nipah in 2021:
1. The pay ward of Kozhikode Government Medical College Hospital (MCH) was converted to an exclusive isolation ward for potential Nipah-infected people. They pulled this off the night the Nipah case was confirmed.
2. The Government isolated 30 high-risk contacts within 24-hours of the confirmation in the pay ward of MCH.
3. Authorities sealed areas within the 3 km radius of the boy’s house, shut down roads, and declared it a containment zone within hours of the confirmation.
4. A Rapid Response Team was formed in the ward and was directed to deliver essential provisions to the doorstep of vulnerable families in the Nipah containment zone.
5. Vehicles were arranged with loudspeakers to spread the news of infection and instructed people not to step out of their houses for the following week.
6. The local government body and health workers surveyed 2200 houses for recent suspicious deaths, fever cases, and illness in domesticated animals.
7. Concerned officials collected samples from fruit bats, which are natural carriers of the Nipah virus, to track the source of infection.
8. Even during such an alarming situation, the state strictly followed the Covid-19 protocol. Authorities believe regularly washing and sanitization of hands, wearing masks, and using other protective gears restricted the infection from spreading.
Despite not reporting any new cases, the government has decided to follow a protocol where suspected people will be isolated for over a month. Their main aim now is to track the source of the infection.