Nipah Virus in India: A cross-sectional survey was conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)- National Institute of Virology to study the prevalence of Nipah Virus (NiV) in bats. Scientists have now found the presence of antibodies against the Nipah virus in two species of bats in a cave in Mahabaleshwar (Satara district), a popular hill station in Maharashtra.Also Read - Video: Tips to Keep Private Parts Clean and Hydrated During Monsoon | Watch
Nipah Virus is one of the top-10 global priority list pathogens identified by the World Health Organization. As per Indian Express, India has experienced four episodes of Nipah Virus outbreaks with CFR ranging from 65 per cent to 100per cent. The first of many was reported in Siliguri district, West Bengal in 2001, which was followed by West Bengal in 2007. Then it took place in Kozhikode district of Kerala state in 2018 with 18 case fatalities. Another outbreak happened in the same state in 2019. Also Read - Video: Which Dal Should Be Consumed During Summers | Watch
In March 2020, researchers trapped two species of bats namely Rousettus leschenaultii and Pipistrellus pipistrellus using mist nets in a cave in Mahabaleshwar. The study, titled ‘Detection of possible Nipah virus infection in Rousettus leschenaultii and Pipistrellus Pipistrellus bats in Maharashtra, India’ is published in the Journal of Infection and Public Health. Also Read - Want To Increase Height? These Food Items Can Help You Grow Taller - Watch Video
What is Nipah Virus?
As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, NiV is a member of the family Paramyxoviridae, genus Henipavirus. It is a zoonotic virus, meaning that it initially spreads between animals and people. The animal host reservoir for NiV is the fruit bat (genus Pteropus), also known as the flying fox.
What are virologists saying about Nipah Virus?
Dr Pragta Yadav, the study’s lead investigator told TOI that none of the bat species in Maharashtra had earlier shown any exposure to the Nipah virus. The presence of NiV RNA and antibodies was first detected in large fruit-eating bats called Pteropus medius bats. As the roosting and breeding habitats of R leschenaultii bats vary from previously-detected Pteropus medius bats, more research in both bats and humans can help in understanding the presence of the Nipah virus in Maharashtra.
From the anaesthetised bats- blood, throat, and rectal swab samples were collected onsite and throat and rectal swab specimens were collected from all the bats. Later, necropsy of ten bats of each species was conducted at the containment facility of the Indian Council of Medical Research- National Institute of Virology (ICMR-NIV), Pune.
Signs and Symptoms of Nipah Virus
Initial Symptoms may include:
- Sore throat
- Difficulty breathing
And watch out for these severe symptoms:
- Disorientation, drowsiness, or confusion
- Brain swelling (encephalitis)
Is Nipah Virus Curable?
According to Dr Pragta, 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 per cent.
Prevention measures you can take:
As per CDC, you should take the following precautions:
- Practice handwashing regularly with soap and water
- Avoid contact with sick bats or pigs
- Avoid areas where bats are known to roost
- Avoid consumption of raw date palm sap
- Avoid consumption of fruits that may be contaminated by bats
- Avoid contact with the blood or body fluids of any person known to be infected with NiV