Bats not primary source of Nipah, claims report

Henrietta Brewer
May 27, 2018

With the help of Indian Council of Medical Research and World Health Organisation, the Kerala government has procured about 50 doses of a monoclonal antibody from Australia to combat Nipah virus, state Health minister K K Shylaja said today.

The samples from bats found dead in Himachal Pradesh, which were sent to the Pune institute, have been found negative and the two samples of suspected cases from Hyderabad were also negative.

Nipah virus may not have spread beyond Kerala but its scare has spread across the country with several states investigating suspicious cases and issuing advisories on precautions and travel to Kerala.

Although the risk of getting infected with the virus from bats and pigs are low in Bhutan, Dr Karma Lhazeen said the risk is in people travelling in and out of the affected places.

The local administration in the two districts has set up a taskforce with a designated control room and a nodal officer has been appointed to collect data to ensure preventive measures.

The Nipah virus outbreak in southern India this week has prompted the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a global alliance of governments and non-profits, to step up efforts to find a cure for the deadly disease.

The initials symptoms are that of fever, headache and muscle pain in most cases.

The natural host of the virus are fruit bats.

A Union health ministry advisory has said that the virus, which commonly affects animals such as bats, pigs, dogs, and horses, can spread to humans, causing serious illness.

It is alleged in the petition that Mohanan Vaidyar of Thalavoor in Cherthala and Jacob Vadakkanchery of Kochi-based Nature Life International have uploaded videos on Facebook denying the existence of Nipah virus and terming it as a false alarm created by the health department of the state to aid pharma companies.

The WHO reports that the symptoms usually take between five to 14 days to manifest.

Although there has been not a single case of Nipah virus registered in the state till date, but health department needs to remain extra cautious on the issue, Gupta said. Patients will experience mild to severe acute respiratory infection. "And we want to make sure that it stays contained here", said R.L. Sarita, the director of health services in Kerala.

There are no vaccines available against Nipah virus (NiV). The first outbreak of the disease occurred in a Malaysian village in 1998, leading to over 100 deaths, including those of many farmers who had contracted it through their pigs.

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