Nipah threat in Kerala eases, origin of virus traced to fruit bats

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Nipah threat in Kerala eases, origin of virus traced to fruit bats

In a major breakthrough regarding Nipah in Kerala, Union Minister of Health Dr Harsh Vardhan on Friday told the Parliament that twelve bat samples tested at the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, for Nipah virus had been found to be positive. He had said that out of 36 Pteropus species bats tested, 12 were presented with “anti-Nipah bat IgG antibodies”.

In a written response to questions regarding the review of the Nipah virus in Kerala, Dr Harsh added, “Strategic Health Operation Centre (SHOC) at NCDC has been activated since 4th June, 2019 and is coordinating with field teams on surveillance and response activities for Nipah containment.”

Further, while 50 suspects had been identified, none of them have tested positive for Nipah and no new case has been reported.

So far, the Kerala Health Department has not made any announcement about the bats being the source of the virus. "The announcement on the source of the virus has to be made by the minister and we health officials are not supposed to comment on it," Ernakulam District Medical Officer NK Kuttappan told TNM.

The Nipah threat in Kerala has further eased up with the test results of those who were under isolation testing negative for the virus. With only 58 people remaining on the list, the number of people under surveillance has also reduced.

All the seven people who had been admitted at the isolation ward set up at the Government Medical College, Kalamassery were discharged at different points of time as they tested negative for Nipah. 

The Health Department had traced 330 people who had been in direct and indirect contact with the first 23-year-old college student who had contacted Nipah. All of the 330 had been under surveillance; but as on Friday, the number has reduced to 58. 152 people were removed from the list marking the end of the 21 day observation period. 139 people from Ernakulam district are also no longer under surveillance.

“There is no one under isolation now and this has been a huge improvement,” Kuttapan said.

The consistent improvement in the health condition of the 23-year-old youth has also given the Health Department officials relief. The youth has been admitted at a private hospital in Ernakulam since the last week of May.

Also Read: Why only NIV Pune confirms Nipah – and why this isn’t ideal for Kerala