Kerala has declared victory against the Nipah virus once again , with the state’s sole patient being discharged from hospital.
A potential resurgence of the Nipah virus was announced earlier this year with the news that a 23-year-old man in the Ernakulam district had tested positive for the disease. The Nipah virus made headlines in India last year when an outbreak of the disease in the state’s Kozhikode and Malappuram districts claimed seventeen lives. Past outbreaks have been reported in West Bengal’s Siliguri district, as well as in Bangladesh, Malaysia, and Singapore.
A swift response by the state health department enabled Kerala to contain the virus and declare the affected districts Nipah-free. However, news of a case this year sparked new fears of disaster – particularly owing to the disease’s high mortality rate of seventy percent.
Fortunately, this has not materialised. No fatalities have been reported and the infected individual – a college student – recovered earlier this month, being discharged on Tuesday after 54 days of hospitalisation. Kerala Health Minister K. K. Shailaja was present when the student left the hospital and commended the medical team who handled the outbreak, as well as the cooperation between the private and public sectors in effecting the response.
Efforts to contain the outbreak saw 338 people kept under observation and seventeen individuals who had come into contact with the infected student were isolated. While the success is commendable, it is important that vigilance against the virus continues in the future. Research has suggested that eleven species of bat harbouring the Nipah virus could be present in India, not just the flying fox species typically associated with spreading the disease. Ensuring that future outbreaks are minimised in impact in line with this year’s successful containment will require vigilance from authorities and preparedness ahead of time.