Kerala Health Minister Veena George on Wednesday said antibodies against Nipah virus were found in the samples of two varieties of bats by National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune, giving credence to the speculation that bats were the spreaders of the deadly infection. The minister, speaking to reporters, said NIV Pune had collected samples of various varieties of bats from Kozhikode, where a single instance of Nipah infection was reported this year with the 12-year-old patient succumbing to the virus on September 5.
She said tests of two varieties of the mammal indicated the presence of IgG antibodies against Nipah. The remaining samples were also being tested by the lab and its results would be available soon, the minister added. The Health department was on high alert since September 4 when the 12-year-old boy was found infected with the Nipah virus.
The three-km-radius from his house was cordoned off and house-to-house surveillance was conducted and samples were tested. The first Nipah virus disease outbreak in South India was reported from Kozhikode district in Kerala on May 19, 2018 and there were 17 deaths and 18 confirmed cases as of June 1, 2018.
The outbreak was contained and declared over by June 10, 2018. Thereafter, in June 2019, a new case of Nipah was reported from Kochi and the sole patient was a 23-year-old student, who later recovered.
With this year’s reporting of a case, it is the fifth time the virus has been detected in India and the third in Kerala.