In the light of the recent Nipah virus outbreak in Kozhikode in Kerala, the Maharashtra Government has stepped up by setting up isolation wards in all the major hospitals of the state as a precautionary measure. The viral outbreak has claimed 12 lives till now, including that of healthcare worker Lini Puthuserry who contracted the infection while treating the first two cases of the infection.
The decision to set up the isolation wards in the state has been done since a large number of residents, especially those who hail from Kerala, vacation in the southern state during the summers. In the unlikely event that someone contracts the infection, the isolation wards will serve as a quarantine to prevent the spread of the Nipah virus.
The Health Minister, Dr. Deepak Sawant, has urged people who have returned from Kerala, especially Kozhikode to undergo examination for the virus lest the contagion spreads. The Union Health Ministry has also assured that there is no need to panic and that an outbreak is “unlikely” to spread since the state is equipped to tackle Nipah virus and that early and efficient containment measures are being taken.
The Nipah virus is transmitted through the bodily fluids of an infected person, and the infection has a very high fatality rate of 40 to 70 percent. The incubation period for the virus is anywhere between four to eighteen days, although there have been cases of the symptoms showing even after 45 days. Symptoms are similar to that of influenza, which causes muscle pain, fever and in some cases, inflammation of the brain. Disorientation and confusion are commonly seen in affected people since the virus affects the central nervous system.