Guwahati, July 6: In a startling revelation, the medical researchers discovered the first reservoirs of Nipah virus in Dhubri in western Assam and Cooch Behar, a district in the northern part of West Bengal, after a team from the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, sampled more than 100 fruit-eating bats from the region.
As per reports, a total of 18 Nipah outbreak cases were reported between January 2001 and January 2013 in India and Bangladesh. In three cases, each of the infected persons died and on five occasions, more than 80 per cent infected individuals died, as per reports. The fatality was less than 40 per cent only in two outbreaks. With little evidence of a natural reservoir of the virus in India, the researchers decided to look into some of the districts bordering Bangladesh where Nipah appeared in regular periodicity, according to information.
This year, as many as 17 people died in Kozhikode and Malappuram districts of Kerala due to Nipah virus.
With due permission from the forest departments, the medical experts captured 107 bats — 60 from Dhubri, 39 from Cooch Behar and eight from Jalpaiguri. The presence of the virus in nine of the 107 samples were detected following laboratory tests which confirmed its presence in the wild in India.
According to the medical experts, large colonies of bats and roosts of Pteropus giganteus bats were present in close proximity to human settlements in Dhubri and Cooch Behar districts. Pteropus bats are known to be a natural reservoir for Nipah virus.
“The presence of Nipah virus in the bat population in a previously unexplored region is a matter of serious concern,” the scientists reported in the latest issue of the Indian Journal of Medical Research published by the Indian Council of Medical Research.