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India’s Karnataka Steps Surveillance as Nipah Virus Hits Neighboring Kerala

Following the Nipah virus outbreak in India’s southern state of Kerala, local government in the adjacent Karnataka has stepped up surveillance in its districts, officials said Friday.

It has issued an advisory asking its people to avoid unnecessary travel to the affected districts of Kerala.

“In view of reporting of four confirmed Nipah cases with two deaths in Kozhikode district of Kerala state, the surveillance activities in the districts bordering Kerala state need to be intensified to prevent the transmission of infection,” read a circular issued by Karnataka’s health and family welfare services.

The order also called for the initiation of immediate actions by the districts in the state to prevent the Nipah virus disease transmission at all levels.

“Setting up check posts for fever surveillance at the point of entry from Karnataka to Kerala. Intensify fever surveillance in the bordering districts such as Chamarajanagar, Mysore, Kodagu, and Dakshin Kannada and at the points of entries to Karnataka.”

It also urged health officials to ensure adequate stock of all essential drugs and oxygen in the hospitals.

So far Nipah infections reported in Kerala have gone up to six, officials said Friday.

Kerala had first witnessed an outbreak of the Nipah virus in 2018 in Kozhikode and Malappuram districts, which claimed 17 lives.

In 2019 and 2021 Nipah reappeared in the state.

According to World Health Organization (WHO), Nipah virus infection is a newly emerging zoonosis that causes severe disease in both animals and humans. The natural host of the virus are fruit bats of the Pteropodidae Family, Pteropus genus.

Typically, the human infection presents as an encephalitic syndrome marked by fever, headache, drowsiness, disorientation, mental confusion and coma, which can potentially lead to death.