Breeding season of bats to begin, experts advice to be vigilant on Nipah outbreak


Joseph Mathew

In the last two years, Nipah virus outbreak was reported in Kerala during May and June. The virus outbreak was reported during the breeding season of bats.

Kochi: Amid the coronavirus outbreak, experts issued warning to be careful about Nipah outbreak in the state in the coming months as its time for breeding season of bats.

In the last two years, Nipah virus outbreak was reported in Kerala during May and June. The virus outbreak was reported during the breeding season of bats. Hence, we must be well-prepared to counter the deadly virus, directs a medical report. The report was prepared by a team headed Dr Mohanan Valiyaveetil from virology lab under Biotechnology department in CUSAT. This report was published in a popular international health journal titled ‘Virus’.

Vinod Soman Pillai and Gayathri Krishna are the other members of the team behind the report.

“During the breeding season, the presence of virus will be high among bats. Though the bats are the natural carriers of the virus, it will not get affected with the virus often as it has its own natural immunity. But immunity level of the bats will fall during the breeding season. Hence, the fluids of bats will contain high quantity of Nipah virus. Human beings will get infected through a source that is in contact with bats,” said Dr Mohanan.

Studies in three countries

In Malaysia, human beings contracted Nipah from pigs which came in contact with bats. At the same time, those who consumed the juice of date palm turned carriers of the disease in Bangladesh. It was in 2001, the first case of Nipah virus was reported in India from Siligudi in West Bengal. It is the place which shares border with Bangladesh. But the source of the virus was not identified.

However, the health officials in Kerala still have no clue about the source of the virus that led to the Nipah outbreak in Kozhikode in 2018. As the first patient succumbed to the virus, the health officials failed to trace the source.

It is assumed that he contracted the virus from the pups of bats or the fruit bite by a bat. The virus outbreak was reported during the breeding season of the bats.

Lessons from Nipah outbreak

The report pointed out that the interventions of the government helped the state to check the spread of the disease in its second wave in 2019. The first patient was successfully isolated and over 300 people who came in close contact with the patient were isolated.

The first patient recovered from the disease. The latest report suggested that the government must show this vigilance to counter Nipah in future also.

Two types of Nipah virus

There are two types in Nipah virus namely Nipah Virus –B and Nipah Virus-M. The highest death rate was reported from Nipah Virus-B outbreak.

In India and Bangladesh, people died of Nipah Virus-B infections. At the same time, Malaysis encountered Nipah-M outbreak.

How to prevent Nipah Outbreak?

  • Always keep distance from the habitat of bats
  • Never eat fruits bitten by bats
  • Always maintain personal hygiene
  • Bats migrate to human settled areas due to the destruction of its natural habitat from deforestation. So deforestation must be avoided.
  • Special care must be taken in densely populated places like Kerala.

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