LDF Government of Kerala to be felicited by Institute of Human Virology for Containing NIPAH Virus
Institute of Human Virology, Baltimore will be organizing a reception on 6th July to felicitate Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Health Minister KK Shyalaja, in recognition of the steps taken by the LDF government in containing the dreaded NIPAH Virus from spreading, which took 17 lives in May earlier this year. The efforts of the state government have earned accolades from other international agencies including the World Health Organisation, as well.
The exemplary work done by the LDF government has to be seen in the background where India has a very poor record of outbreak investigations. About 10,000 people develop encephalitis-like symptoms each year but never get a diagnosis. Some regions, such as Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur and Bihar’s Muzaffarpur, saw thousands of deaths in repeated annual outbreaks before the causes were established. Against this background, the discovery of an exotic pathogen in the very second patient hit by an outbreak, as was the case in Kozhikode, has few precedents.
This has been possible only due to brisk intervention of part of the state government. The following timeline will suffice this:
- Under the 2005 International Health Regulations, India is obligated to report outbreaks of emerging infectious diseases to the World Health Organisation. While the MCVR team had identified the NIPAH virus, it could move ahead only after the confirmation from the National Institute of Virology in Pune.
- This confirmation came only on 20 May. However, the state health-care machinery didn’t wait for the confirmation. Within hours of the second patient’s arrival at Baby Memorial Hospital, Kozhikode’s district medical officer, V. Jayashree, had learnt of it. A team of entomologists of organized, which visited patient’s Perambra home on the morning of May 18. They collected mosquito samples and fogged the area, just in case the mosquitoes were the disease vectors.
- By the time the final result came on May 20, State medical associations and government doctors were already on high alert. The State’s Health Minister, K.K. Shylaja, was in the city to oversee the outbreak response. On May 20 morning, an officer trained in Ebola outbreak protocols instructed the State’s doctors in infection-control measures — isolating patients, using surgical masks and decontaminating surfaces. It was an extraordinarily swift response by any measure. Yet, according to the State’s Director of Health Services, R.L. Saritha, this was routine procedure and is the usual response in the state in case of any outbreak.
The prompt response from the state government ensured that the second wave of infection was tackled effectively, in spite of the deadly adversary that the NIPAH virus is. All this has been possible only because of the heroic and untiring efforts by the medical staff and doctors. This fact has been acknowledged by the LDF government. In appreciation of their exemplary service in containing the deadly Nipah virus outbreak, the LDF government, decided to give an additional increment to about 61 government health personnel in Kozhikode and Malappuram districts. “Four assistant professors, 19 staff nurses, 7 nursing assistants, 17 cleaning staff, 4 hospital attenders, two health inspectors, 3 lab technicians are among the 61 persons who will be entitled to the additional increment”, a government press release said.
Besides them, 12 junior residents and 3 senior residents would be given a one-sovereign gold medal. An award in memory of nurse Lini Puthussery, who contracted Nipah virus while serving her patients at the Perambra Taluk hospital and died, will be instituted for the best nurse in the government sector.
LDF government has produced a video titled “Bye NIPAH” celebrating the defeat of the virus. The video can be seen here: