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To keep Nipah virus away from Maharashtra, animal husbandry, forest departments to join hands

The surveillance of bat habitats will be conducted jointly with the forest department and experts concerned, said Umap. It will include keeping a watch on places frequented by bats and alerting the authorities in case of sudden mortality in the local bat population.

Written by Parthasarathi Biswas | Pune | Published: May 25, 2018 9:36:33 am
The outbreak of Nipah virus in Kerala’s Kozhikode district, in which at least 12 people have died, affected monsoon retreat to the state. (Express photo) In previous instances of Nipah Virus infections, 93 per cent cases were diagnosed among workers of pig farms or abattoirs. (Express photo)  

As part of the preventive measures taken against the possible spread of Nipah virus, Maharashtra’s Animal Husbandry Department will keep a close watch on areas that have a large population of bats. The virus, which has claimed 10 lives in Kerala, spreads through contact with bat droppings or consuming fruits infected with it. Infected pork is another medium through which the disease can spread. Humans who come in contact with infected excreta, either through the fruits or pork, can contract the disease. The disease can further spread via human contact.

Commissioner of Animal Husbandry Department, Kantilal Umap, said the central government has already shared the standard operating procedure to prevent the spread of the disease. The surveillance of bat habitats will be conducted jointly with the forest department and experts concerned, said Umap. It will include keeping a watch on places frequented by bats and alerting the authorities in case of sudden mortality in the local bat population. “We are keeping a close watch in the districts of western Maharashtra, which have a large concentration of bats as well as orchards,” he said.

The outbreak in Kerala has also taken place in a part of the state that has a large fruit bat population. Umap said surveillance along the state’s border with Goa has also been strengthened. A close watch is also being kept in areas with pig farms and measures such as spraying of disinfectants are being undertaken. In previous instances of Nipah Virus infections, 93 per cent cases were diagnosed among workers of pig farms or abattoirs.

Meanwhile, fruit sellers in the city are also wary about their business being hit. However, Rohan Ursal, a trader in Pune’s wholesale market, said business has been normal till now.

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