Fruit bats are main reservoir for Nipah virus: Union Health Minister
New Delhi: Only one case of Nipah virus has been reported so far this year from Ernakulum district of Kerala and the patient has been discharged, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan informed the Lok Sabha Friday.
The case was reported in the first week of June, he said. Vardhan said a total of 50 suspects were identified and all of them tested negative for Nipah. A total of 330 contacts are being followed up on a daily basis and no new case has been reported, he said.
Immediately after the outbreak, the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune deputed special teams to collect samples from Pteropus or fruit bats, which are the main reservoir for the Nipah virus disease, the minister told the Lower House of Parliament.
"Out of 36 Pteropus species bats tested for Nipah, 12 (33 per cent) were found to be positive for anti-Nipah bat IgG antibodies," he said.
The health minister said during the 2018 Nipah outbreak in Kerala, 52 Pteropus giganteus bats were collected and 10 samples (19 per cent) were found positive for Nipah by 'Real Time qRT-PCR' lab testing technique.
Human Nipah virus infection is an emerging zoonotic disease in which the virus is transmitted to humans from infected bats, pigs and other animals. Nipah virus outbreak in India has been reported from two states till now - West Bengal (2001, 2007) and Kerala (2018 and now in 2019).
In 2001, there were 66 cases and 45 deaths due to Nipah virus in Siliguri. In 2007, five deaths and five cases were reported from Nadia in West Bengal. In 2018, 17 deaths and 19 cases were reported from Kozhikode and Malappuram in Kerala. This year, so far, no fatality has been reported due to Nipah infection in Kerala, Vardhan said.
Elaborating on the measures taken by the government after the outbreak, he said the Union Health Ministry deployed a multi-disciplinary team consisting of experts from the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), AIIMS and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in the affected district to assist and guide the state health authorities.
The team is supporting Kerala in investigations, contact tracing, sample testing and management of Nipah Virus Disease (NiVD), he asserted.
Point of Care Test facility has been established by NIV, Pune at Medical College Ernakulum. Experts from the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD), Bhopal were also involved with the local Animal Husbandry Department in the investigation, the minister said.
A Strategic Health Operation Centre (SHOC) at NCDC has been activated since June 4 and is coordinating with field teams on surveillance and response activities for Nipah containment.
A dedicated phone-line has been established at SHOC to answer queries of general public. Further, specific case definition, contact tracing and treatment and clinical management protocol have been provided to Kerala authorities, Vardhan said.
In response to a question, the Union minister said according to the information received from the Ministry of External Affairs, no screening for Nipah Virus is required for issuance of Indian visas to persons coming from Bangladesh and Malaysia.