Kozhikode: While none of the 21 samples sent to the National Institute of High-Security Animal, Bhopal returned positive for the Nipah virus, the Kerala Animal Husbandry Department is taking efforts to collect more samples and sent them to the centre to ascertain the likelihood of the bats being the primary host for the Nipah virus outbreak plaguing certain districts of Kerala.
The 21 samples which were sent earlier consisted of three samples from bats, five from goats, five from cattle and eight from pigs, all of which returned negative for the Nipah virus.
This news comes as a relief to the people of the Changorath Panchayat in Kozhikode, as it confirms that there is no spread of the virus amongst the livestock in the locality.
Now, the samples of fruit-eating bats are being collected from nearby Perambra, the epicentre of the Nipah virus that has claimed 11 lives so far, and would be sent for testing at the National Institute of High-Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD) in Bhopal.
Experts from the National Institute of Virology, Pune, and departments of Animal Husbandry and Forest have begun collecting the samples which would be sent to NIHSAD, to test for the presence of the virus in the fruit-eating bats, Dr NN Sasi, the Director Animal Husbandry, said.
Earlier, samples of three insectivorous bats caught from an unused well of the Moosa family, which lost three members to Nipah virus, were sent to the Bhopal laboratory along with samples of pigs, goats and cattle in the 5 km radius of the affected area and all of them tested negative, he said.
According to an official, the droppings, urine, and secretions of the bats will also be sent for testing.
A Union Health Ministry advisory has said that the virus, which commonly affects animals such as bats, pigs, dogs, and horses, can spread to humans, causing serious illness.
Spread of the virus to humans may occur after close contact with other Nipah infected people, infected bats, or infected pigs. There are totally 14 Nipha confirmed cases, of whom 11 have so far lost their lives.
Of the 11 deaths, 8 are from Kozhikode and 3 from neighbouring Malappuram.
22 persons 13 from Kozhikode, 6 from Malappuram, 2 from Kottayam and one from Thiruvananthapuram are also suspected to have contracted the virus. Their blood samples have been sent for testing and results are awaited.
The Nipah virus is a newly emerging zoonosis that causes severe disease in both animals and humans. The natural host of the virus is believed to be fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family, Pteropus genus.