Antibodies against Nipah virus detected in bats from Kerala

Antibodies against Nipah virus detected in bats from Kerala

  • Nipah virus antibodies were detected in bat samples collected by the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, from two districts in Kerala where a Nipah infection was confirmed.

Significance of the discovery:

  • Given the current evidence, it has been logically concluded that the Nipah outbreak in Kozhikode did originate from bats, even though the authorities are still in the dark as to the route of virus transmission from bats to humans.

Nipah Virus outbreaks in India:

  • India has experienced four NiV outbreaks, with the case fatality rate between 65 percent and 100 percent.
  • The most recent outbreak started in Kerala in 2018.
  • Southern Asian countries and some Indian states have been identified as potential hotspots for the disease.

What’s the Concern now?

  • Nipah is considered dangerous as there is no medicine or vaccines and the death rate among those affected is high. While the Case Fatality Rate (CFR) among COVID-19 affected patients is between 1-2%, that for Nipah infections is in the range of 65-100%.

About the Nipah Virus:

  • It is a zoonotic virus, meaning that it can spread between animals and people.
  • The organism which causes Nipah Virus encephalitis is an RNA or Ribonucleic acid virus of the family Paramyxoviridae, genus Henipavirus, and is closely related to Hendra virus.
  • Fruit bats, also called flying foxes, are the animal reservoir for NiV in nature.

Symptoms: Infection with NiV is associated with encephalitis (swelling of the brain) and can cause mild to severe illness and even death.

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