KOZHIKODE: Prof. Stephen Luby, the Professor of Medicine (Infectious Diseases & Geographic Medicine) at Stanford University in the United States, has said Pteropus genus fruit bat hosts the Nipah virus. In an e-mail chat with Deccan Chronicle Mr Luby said that it was not surprising NiV again hit in India. "The Nipah virus commonly infects bats of the genus Pteropus (Pteropus giganteus). A large proportion of the Indian fruit bats (Pteropus giganteus) have antibodies to Nipah virus. Thus, it is not at all surprising that Nipah virus is in India," he felt.
"Determining the pathway of NiV from bats to people requires careful in-depth study of the exposures that people who were infected had and a comparison of these exposures among people who were not infected. I hope that Indian authorities are undertaking such studies," Mr Luby said. On the Indian context of Nipah, Prof Luby suspected that human Nipah infections occur occasionally here. "But most of the time they are not recognized. Even with much focused surveillance in Bangladesh, we know we miss cases," he said while recalling the NiV outbreak and its aftermath in Bangladesh.
NiV broke out in Bangladesh and Siliguri in West Bengal 33 times between 2001 and 2014. Speaking here on Monday, Additional Chief Secretary Rajiv Sadanandan had also mentioned Pteropus fruit bat as the cause of NiV in Perambra. Meanwhile, five fruit bats had been captured from Soopikada on Monday night. "Besides five bats, we had also collected urine, droppings sample of bats from the area. As many as 30 samples will be sent to Bhopal National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD) tomorrow," said Animal Husbandry Director Dr N.N Sasi.