Tests show bats are not source of Nipah virus

Tests have ruled out bats being behind the spread of the Nipah virus. Source Reuters

Tests have ruled out bats being behind the spread of the Nipah virus. Source Reuters

Allaying fears on the outbreak of nipah virus in the state, the Assam Health department on Friday has stated that there is no reason for panic but warned against eating fruits and said pork should be eaten only after boiling it thoroughly.

"The current outbreak of Nipah in India, the government of which is one of CEPI's founders, demonstrates that this is a deadly pathogen that has already travelled thousands of kilometres, (and) has serious epidemic potential and the ability to surprise us", Richard Hatchett, CEO of CEPI, said in a statement.

Nipah virus which has claimed at least almost a dozen lives in Kerala did not spread through bats, a report has said.

A Nipah virus outbreak in Kerala, western India, has sparked global concerns.

Meanwhile, CEPI today announced a collaboration with Profectus BioSciences and Emergent BioSolutions to develop and make a vaccine against Nipah virus, which is harbored in bats and can spread to humans and livestock. "However, such outbreaks can not be predicted", he said.

The authorities have made a decision to conduct more tests to locate the source of the spread.

The advisory underscored that people who are exposed to areas inhabited by fruit bats/articles contaminated by secretions such as unused wells and fruit orchards are likely to be at higher risk of infections.

Kerala's first NIV outbreak has killed 12 people and infected 20.

The global threat that Nipah poses has determined the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) - an worldwide alliance of governmental and non-profit organizations - to act against the deadly virus. "They continued to perform their duties even in those conditions", he said.

An advisory mentioning how the disease spreads, its symptoms and preventive measures, has however been issued by the Union Health Ministry. "In Kerala too, the government should follow the same practice", he said. "The other went to Kerala, but did not visit Kozhikode, where Nipah outbreak was reported", he said.

Oommen C. Kurian, fellow, public health, Observer Research Foundation, said that the study proves that bats carrying Nipah virus have possibly been around in many states other than West Bengal, where we had known outbreaks. In Kerala, bat has been identified as a carrier of the virus. Given its recent origin, Indian health data/surveillance systems do not really cover Nipah as a disease category, said Kurian.

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