‘Fruit bats main source of Nipah virus in Kerala’

‘Fruit bats main source of Nipah virus in Kerala’

NEW DELHI/
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Clearing the air on the origin of Nipah outbreak in
Kerala, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has confirmed that fruit bats were the primary source of the virus that claimed 17 lives in
Kozhikode and
Malappuram districts of the state earlier this year.

The delay in identifying the zoonotic virus host occurred because wrong bat species were trapped and tested in May. Initially, a central medical team had ruled out bats as the primary source of the infection after the samples collected from bats in two Kerala districts tested negative.

Later, another medical team in its report to the health ministry said bats cannot be ruled out as the samples were collected from insectivorous bats, which are not known to be Nipah carriers. In the second round, samples from 55 fruit bats were collected and sent to National Institute of Virology, Pune.

However, the Kerala health department is yet to receive an official communication from the health ministry on the findings.