KOZHIKODE: No medicines, zero information and lack of expertise and state-of-the-art facilities. It's a journey from ignorance to expertise for the health sector fighting the Nipah threat even before realising they were taking on a deadly disease which has no cure. The medical fraternity heaved a sigh of relief on Friday with the 21 suspected cases tested negative at the National Virology Lab, Pune. However, experts feel that the disease, though slow, would continue to be transmitted through primary, secondary and tertiary contacts. At the fourth stage, it would die down, they say.
The organised resistance remains a model for its well-knit coordination between private and public sectors. Even before confirming Nipah, after the second death in the family of Moosa at Perambra, the district administration set up a task force with experts, people’s representatives and officials for closely monitoring the disease with the help of experts of Baby Memorial Hospital who treated Mohammed Salih, son of Mr Moosa. It was two doctors of Baby Memorial Hospital, Dr MS Anoop Kumar and Dr C Jayakrishnan, who played a pivotal role in identifying the disease at the initial stage itself.
The unique symptoms of Muhammed Salih matched with that of the Nipah virus symptoms of which Dr Jayakrishnan had read in a book recently, giving the first lead. District collector U.V. Jose said the success was the result of teamwork of the state health department, district administration, central teams and the private sector. “At the beginning, we were ignorant about the existence of Nipah. But once identified by the Kasturba Medical College, Manipal, things became easy as central teams took over the reins of treatment modules," he told DC.
“They gave directions, set the treatment protocol and carried out awareness sessions." On the active role played by the private sector, Mr Jose said, initially, there were apprehensions whether they would cooperate. But later they extended all support sharing infrastructure and expertise. "Though the intensity is down, the vigil will continue till May 31," he said.
The Indian Medical Association also formed an expert committee to help. IMA former state president Dr Pradeep Kumar of Baby Memorial Hospital said such handholding of private and public sector was essential in fighting and winning such situations. “Sharing of information and infrastructure, planning of preventive mechanism and effective implementation, such cooperation is essential,” he told DC.