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Nipah mystery deepens as lab report rules out bats as prime cause of infection

WT24 Desk

The mystery over the prime source of deadly Nipah virus that claimed 12 lives in Kerala deepened further after the blood and serum samples of bats that were suspected to be prime cause of the infection, were found negative after test at the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases in Bhopal, The Hindustan Times reports.

Worried health officials have now decided to examine the travel history of Mohamed Sadiq, the first to die from the Moosa family which lost four members to the virus. He was working in the Middle-East and his mother had told officials that he suffered from some stomach ailment.

Soon after the confirmation of Nipah virus, health and animal husbandry officials had inspected the well of Moosa in Changaroth village and found many bats in it.

They suspected bats to be the primary source and sent their samples to the animal laboratory. The well was immediately sealed and scared people started attacking bats at many places.

“We sent 21 samples and all are negative,” a senior official of the state animal husbandry department said, adding, “Along with bats we also took samples of domesticated animals like cow, goat, rabbit, dog and cat, and that too are negative.”

Some experts had earlier expressed doubts over bats’ role after they found most of the bats netted from Moosa family insectivorous (insect-consuming) bats, not fruit bats.

According to the WHO advisory on Nipah, fruit bats and animals like pigs are the main carriers of the virus.

Meanwhile, an all-party meet convened by the state government on Friday decided to take out a march through the worst affected Kozhikkode district to instill confidence among people and check their exodus. Excise minister T P Ramakrishnan and health minister K K Shailaja will participate in the march.

The district bore the brunt claiming eight lives. The government has also decided to sack employees of an electric crematorium who refused to cremate Nipah-infected bodies.

Minister Shailaja assured that the outbreak has been contained and “localised”. “There is no need for panic. But we will not lower our vigil,” she said.

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