Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala's Health Minister, Veena George, has scheduled a high-level meeting for today in response to two recent "unexplained deaths" attributed to fever in Kozhikode district. Health officials suspect that the Nipah virus may be the cause of these fatalities.
The unfortunate incidents occurred at a private hospital in Kozhikode, with one of the deceased individuals' relatives currently under intensive care at the same facility, as stated by the Health Department. In light of these developments, the state health department has issued an alert for the district following a review meeting chaired by State Health Minister Veena George.
According to Minister George, a case of "unexplained death" was reported in Kozhikode on Monday morning, with the close relatives of the deceased also being admitted to the hospital. The body of the deceased has been placed in the mortuary, and cremation will only proceed after the results are obtained, Minister George informed reporters in Kozhikode.
"The health department has initiated surveillance and sent samples to the National Institute of Virology. Another death was also reported, and both deceased individuals had been in contact with each other," stated George.
The initial death occurred on August 30th, with the second fatality occurring on Monday. Health officials have placed all healthcare systems in the district on high alert, and orders have been issued to isolate close contacts of the deceased individuals. Confirmation of Nipah virus infection can only occur once the test results are received, which is expected by this evening.
The Health Minister has instructed local health workers to maintain a vigilant presence in their respective areas. "If the results are positive, we will take action in accordance with the state's Nipah protocols. A thorough assessment will be conducted," added the Health Minister.
As a precautionary measure, the Health Ministry has also directed the establishment of an isolation facility at Kozhikode Medical College. "Samples from the two deceased individuals and three others currently receiving treatment have been sent to Pune for testing," noted the State Health Minister.
It's worth noting that Kozhikode and Malappuram districts experienced a Nipah outbreak in 2018, and in 2021, a Nipah case was reported in Kozhikode. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Nipah Virus is transmitted by fruit bats and has the potential to be fatal for both humans and animals. In addition to respiratory symptoms, it is known to cause fever, muscle pain, headache, dizziness, and nausea.