Indian authorities are struggling to contain the recent outbreak of the Nipah Virus in the southern Kerala state as the new infection is believed to be more deadly than the coronavirus after it resulted in the death of a 12-year-old boy over the weekend.
Authorities are increasing efforts to trace the victim's contacts as new infections have been confirmed by officials. A week ago, the young boy was admitted to the hospital for high fever, where his condition worsened. Doctors suspected the kid was suffering from inflammation of his brain, known as encephalitis.
New Indian Infection
Medical experts sent the patient's blood samples to the National Institute of Virology, where tests confirmed that the culprit was the Nipah virus. The 12-year-old boy, unfortunately, lost his life on Sunday fighting against the illness.
India's government has ramped up its efforts to identify people who have come into contact with the victim and place them in quarantine. Authorities are also testing the suspected contact individuals to see if they contracted the virus.
There were 188 people who came in close contact with the 12-year-old boy that had been identified by Monday, Veena George, the state's health minister said. Officials said that 20 of the identified individuals were considered high-risk primary contacts, which include the victim's family members that were told to undergo strict quarantine or admitted to the hospital, CBS News reported.
Medical experts have classified the Nipah virus as a zoonotic infection, which means it is transmitted between species, including from animals to humans or vice versa. In 1999, the infection was identified and subsequently isolated. The origin of the name of the virus is a village in Malaysia, Sungai Nipah.
The virus' host can either be a pig, a fruit bat, dogs, goats, cats, horses, or sheep. The infection is believed to be maintained in nature by a type of fruit bat known as "flying foxes." These creatures show no signs of infection, making it difficult to trace the virus, India Today reported.
What is the Nipah Virus?
The Nipah virus shares one thing with the coronavirus; there is no cure for the infection in terms of treatment. Currently, medical experts have not been able to manufacture an antiviral drug and there are no licensed treatments for the Nipah virus.
Symptoms of the deadly new virus include fever, respiratory symptoms such as cough, sore throat, aches, fatigue, and encephalitis. The best way to keep an individual safe from the Nipah virus is prevention, which can be done by not consuming fruits that have fallen from trees to the ground. Other measures such as avoiding contact with infected people can also keep the number of cases low, the Times of India reported.
India's newest case has already affected two healthcare workers who showed symptoms of the infection by Monday. They were later admitted to a hospital and their blood samples were taken for testing.
A two-mile radius circle around the 12-year-old victim's home was sealed off by authorities who also screened people in adjoining districts of Kerala state. Tamil Nadu, the neighboring state, was placed on high alert for potential cases of fever.