Nipah virus could strike again in India, warn experts

An outbreak of Nipah killed 17 people in Kerala in May-June this year, and was traced to fruit bats.

Published: 29th December 2018 01:41 AM  |   Last Updated: 29th December 2018 06:44 AM   |  A+A-

Healthcare workers at the Government Taluk Hospital in Perambra, Kozhikode, which wears a deserted look due to the Nipah virus scare. | TP Sooraj

Express News Service

NEW DELHI:  There’s a good chance of another Nipah outbreak in the country, as 19 per cent of fruit bats, or Pteropus bats, are likely infected with the virus that causes the disease, warn scientists from top health research agencies. As many as 250 million people in outbreak-prone areas of India and Bangladesh are at risk of exposure, said a report by the Indian Council for Medical Research and the National Institute of Virology.

It further warned people in these regions against consuming partially-eaten fruits as they could carry the virus.

“Nipah virus positivity in bats from north-eastern states and Kerala suggest the possibility of a wider circulation of the virus in other parts of the country as well,” it noted, adding that, “Aerosol transmission, human-to-human spread, high mortality rate, and absence of efficacious vaccines and drugs make Nipah virus a priority pathogen.”

An outbreak of Nipah killed 17 people in Kerala in May-June this year, and was traced to fruit bats. Six people who were infected with the virus survived.

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