Samples of Fruit-Eating Bats to Be Tested for Nipah Virus

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Nipah virus is a zoonotic virus, which means it is transmitted from animals to humans.

"Though there is minimal possibility of Nipah virus in Sikkim, but the people need to take precaution", it said in an advisory yesterday in the wake of Nipah outbreak in Kerala. However, the lab officials are still in the process to conduct more tests to find the main cause. It is the water from the said well that the victims had been using.

With test results showing that a particular variety of bats, found in and around Kozhikode and mostly at the worst-affected Perambara town, is not carrying the virus, a special team from Pune will see how best they can take samples from other varieties of bats also found in the district.

He also asked officials to provide right information to people and to ensure they remain extra alert. "To stop the outbreak, authorities had to euthanize over one million pigs". So far Nipah infections have been reported from Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Madagascar, PNG, Taiwan and Thailand. "And we want to make sure that it stays contained here", said R.L. Sarita, the director of health services in Kerala.

DME Dr K Ramesh Reddy urged the public not to get carried away by unconfirmed reports of Nipah infection making rounds in social media.

The virus was first reported in Malaysia among the pig farmers in 1998 and the pigs were the intermediate host.

Also, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the state government is closely monitoring the outbreak and taking steps to prevent its further spread.

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The virus is spread through bodily fluids that can be passed from one creature to another.

A World Health Organization analysis paper on Nipah notes that outbreaks since 2001 have been due to drinking contaminated date palm sap, or its fermented variety, especially in Bangladesh.

The family of four was treated by nurse Lini Puthussery who also came in contact with the deadly virus and died last week.

According to an official, the droppings, urine and secretions of the bats will also be sent for testing. If the disease progresses, it can seriously affect the respiratory and central nervous systems, and even lead to encephalitis (brain inflammation).

Experts believe that the incubation period of the virus is anywhere between 4-14 days, healthcare professionals can misdiagnose the disease.

Since then, outbreaks have occurred nearly every year in Bangladesh, and twice before in the Indian state of West Bengal. However, Bihar reports encephalitis cases every summer, and as one of the reasons of death from Nipah is brain fever - also a symptom of encephalitis - the state health society has made a decision to keep track.

A global coalition to fight epidemics this week struck a $25-million deal with two USA biotech groups to speed work on a vaccine.

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