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Sunday, October 24, 2021

Nipah antibodies detected in two bat species: Kerala health minister

It was in Kozhikode district where the fatal virus had claimed the life of a boy earlier this month.

Written by Shaju Philip | Thiruvananthapuram |
Updated: September 30, 2021 12:29:31 am
The health department had earlier asked people not to consume fruits picked up from the ground, as such fruits could have been bitten by bats carrying the Nipah virus. (File photo)

Kerala’s Health Minister Wednesday said the National Institute of Virology had found Nipah virus antibodies in samples collected from two fruit bat varieties in Kozhikode district. It is widely accepted that these mammals are the source of the virus and the finding reinforces this.

It was in Kozhikode district where the fatal virus had claimed the life of a boy earlier this month.

Minister Veena George said NIV, Pune, had collected samples from a region close to where the outbreak was reported.

The outbreak was reported at Chathamangalam panchayat. The samples of Pteropus (known as flying foxes) were collected from the nearby Kodiyathur panchayat. Those of Rousettus Aegyptiacus (Egyptian fruit bat) were collected from Thamarassery panchayat, 15 km from Chathamangalam.

The minister said the results of 50-odd samples are yet to arrive. “We have to assume that fruit bats are the source of Nipah. More research has to be held in this regard to arrive at a final confirmation,” she said.

One Nipah infection, that of the boy, was reported in Kozhikode on September 4. Prior to this, Kerala had seen two Nipah outbreaks, the first being in 2018..After the latest case, around 250 people, mainly the primary contacts of the diseased boy and the health workers who had attended to him in various hospitals, were isolated.

The minister said the 21-day incubation period of the virus is over and no fresh case has been reported during the period. The outbreak of the virus will be declared ‘contained’ after 42 days of the solitary case being confirmed. Until then, the vigil would continue, she said.

After the infection was confirmed, the state Health Department conducted a door-to-door survey at 16,736 houses and collected details from 76,074 people. NIV, Pune, tested 50 samples which turned out to be negative.

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