Nipah antibodies found in bat samples in Kozhikode

Logical that outbreak originated from bats but route of transmission to humans not known: Kerala Health Minister

Nipah virus antibodies (IgG antibodies) were detected in bat samples collected by the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, from Kodiyathoor and Thamarassery in Kozhikode district near the panchayat where a Nipah virus outbreak had been confirmed last month.

The samples were collected by the NIV as part of the Nipah outbreak investigation. A sample belonging to the Pteropus species, collected from Thamarassery, was found to have Nipah antibodies, while the same was detected in another sample from the Rousettus species collected from Kodiyathoor.

The results of over 50 bat samples collected as part of the outbreak investigation are still awaited, Health Minister Veena George, said here on Wednesday.

More bat surveillance and epidemiological studies need to be conducted before more conclusions can be drawn, she added. Given the current evidence, it would be logical to conclude that the Nipah outbreak in Kozhikode did originate from bats, even though the authorities are still in the dark as to the route of virus transmission from bats to humans, Ms. George said.

Meanwhile, the State is past the 21-day incubation period since the lone case of Nipah was reported at Kozhikode on September 4, during which time there were no fresh cases. Ms. George said that it was the systematic and proactive manner in which the Health Department took up disease surveillance and control measures as soon as the first case was detected which ensured that the virus did not spread to generate more cases.

If no more cases of Nipah surface in another 21 days’ time (42 days in all after the last case), it would be safe to declare that the outbreak has been completely brought under control. Till then, the State will continue to be on vigil against Nipah, Ms. George said.

Since September 4,extensive surveillance and control measures were taken up in Kozhikode district around the panchayat where the outbreak was detected. As part of the house-to-house surveillance taken up by the Health Department with the help of panchayat authorities, 16,732 houses and 76,074 persons were surveyed. The samples collected and analysed from 50 persons were negative for Nipah.

COVID-19 deaths

Ms. George said that the State would be coming out with a comprehensive list of COVID-19 deaths by including all those deaths which occurred in the State within 30 days of an individual testing positive for COVID-19. The State will issue new guidelines in accordance with the Centre’s definition of what constitutes a COVID-19 death, and all families who lost their loved ones to COVID-19 would be given compensation.

She said that the population covered by the first dose of COVID-19 vaccines had crossed 91% in the State. Though a steady number of new cases are being registered daily, the number of patients being hospitalised or entering ICUs for serious disease was less. Approximately 94% of the COVID-19 deaths in the State were among those who were unvaccinated and those who had serious co-morbidities.

Almost all college students and teachers had been covered by the first dose and those who are still unvaccinated should contact health workers, she added.

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