Australia's Antibody Doses Sought as India Battles Nipah Virus Outbreak.
India, currently grappling with a resurgence of Nipah virus cases, has reported its sixth infection in Kerala’s Kozhikode. The virus, known for its potential to cause severe brain damage, is transmitted through contact with the bodily fluids of infected bats, pigs, or humans and was first identified in 2018. While the number of infections has reached six, the death toll stands at two.
In response to the escalating situation, the Kerala state government has issued a high alert, conducting tests on individuals identified as high-risk contacts of infected patients. The state health department has identified 1,080 people on the contact list and initiated sample collection.
As authorities work tirelessly to contain the virus’s spread, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) recently announced its plans to acquire an additional 20 doses of monoclonal antibody treatment from Australia.
Key Updates on the Nipah Virus:
1. ICMR Director General Rajeev Bahl emphasized the importance of administering the Australian medicine during the early stages of infection. No one in India has received this treatment thus far. Bahl also noted that Nipah’s mortality rate among those infected is significantly higher, ranging from 40% to 70%, compared to the 2-3% mortality rate of COVID-19. ICMR is actively exploring the development of a vaccine for this viral disease.
2. In light of the outbreak, the Kerala High Court has requested the state government to issue guidelines for pilgrimages to Sabarimala, especially when it opens for monthly rituals.
3. As a precautionary measure, all educational institutions in Kozhikode will remain closed for one week, with online classes being implemented. Additionally, hospitals treating Nipah cases have been instructed to establish medical boards, convening twice daily to provide reports to the health department.
4. Kerala’s Health Minister, Veena George, disclosed that approximately 29 individuals from other districts are on the contact list of Nipah-infected individuals. The number of contacts is expected to increase. Furthermore, 17 people who attended the funeral of a man who succumbed to Nipah on August 30 have been placed in isolation.
5. Kerala police have initiated legal proceedings against an individual who allegedly spread false information about the virus. Anil Kumar, a 40-year-old resident of Koyilandi and a newspaper agent, is accused of disseminating fake news through social media, claiming that Nipah was a manufactured narrative created by pharmaceutical companies.