Fruit bat not the culprit behind Nipah scare in Kerala?

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Fruit bat not the culprit behind Nipah scare in Kerala?

Posted on : Wednesday 23rd of May 2018

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Nipah virus has its origins in fruit bats, but the ones found in a well at the house of the first victims of the deadly infection at Perambra in Kozhikode district are small, carnivorous creatures from the bat family, Megaderma spasma. Experts are now wondering if the virus has crept into these bats as well, though this could be confirmed once their blood test results are out.

Megaderma spasma are mainly found in South and Southeast Asia.

It has been proven that that over 60 viruses have spread through bats in different periods of time across the world. Sreehari Raman, a research scholar at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, said bats are immune to the disease caused by such viruses owing to their physical characteristics and strong resistance to infection.

Migratory birds are also virus carriers, but they also avoid getting any deadly infection due to the same reasons.

There are over 50 varieties of bats in Kerala. Six of them are fruit bats and three are quite common locally, said Sreehari.

The little bat

Scientific name Megaderma spasma. Also known as Lesser False Vampire.

 It's small about 54. to 8.1 cm long

Dark grey in colour

Habitats in India

Kerala, Goa, Maharashtra, the Andamans.

Lives in moist forests, caves, and wells.

Ten people have so far lost their lives to the Nipah virus in the northern Kerala districts of Kozhikode and Malappuram. A total of 116 persons, who had come in contact with the some of the infected persons, have been put under quarantine-- 94 in their homes and 22 in various hospitals. Surveillance has been increased in all districts.

Nipah virus (NiV) infection is a zoonosis that causes severe disease in both animals and humans.

Courtesy : Manorama

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