Tests show bats are not source of Nipah virus

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Though the 25-year-old man did not visit the area which is affected by the virus, the authorities did not take any chances and sent his samples along that of another man, who is admitted to Nizam's Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS) with rncephalitis.

Kozhikode: Even as the incidence of fresh cases of Nipah virus has come down, a woman, under treatment at the Kozhikode Medical College hospital, passed away on Saturday, taking the disease toll in Kerala to 13, officials said. His two sons and another relative also succumbed.

Its natural host are fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family, and it was first identified just 20 years ago in 1998 when an outbreak occurred in Kampung Sungai Nipah in Malaysia.

The dead body of Moosa was buried in Kannamparamaba funeral ground. They were provided with safety equipment and training by the health department.

Another 40 people with Nipah symptoms, which can include high fever, vomiting and convulsions, are being treated in area hospitals. Public has also been recommended against consuming bananas and dates.

Also, tests are under way on two suspected patients from neighboring Karnataka state, both of whom became ill after contact with sick people in Kerala state, according to an earlier report.

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In the wake of Nipah virus cases in Kerala, the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) has written to the Queensland government in Australia asking it to provide an antibody developed there to test if it can "neutralise" the virus in humans.

The global threat that Nipah poses has determined the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) - an worldwide alliance of governmental and non-profit organizations - to act against the deadly virus. While cremation is favored as the best method to stop further spread of infection, in case families opt for burial, the body would have to be covered in a polythene bag and then put into a deep pit.

A majority of the deaths have been reported from Kozhikode, while the others are in the nearby Malappuram district. They are meeting those under observation, besides running awareness programmes, an official said. We have opened a control room and we are always on the alert and we are doing everything possible to keep things under check.

"The current outbreak of Nipah in India, the government of which is one of CEPI's founders, demonstrates that this is a deadly pathogen that has already travelled thousands of kilometers, has serious epidemic potential and the ability to surprise us", he said.

Experts from the National Institute of Virology, Pune and departments of Animal Husbandry and Forest have begun collecting the samples that would be sent to NIHSAD, to test for the presence of the virus in the fruit-eating bats, Dr N N Sasi, the Director Animal Husbandry, told PTI.

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