The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has confirmed that fruit bats were responsible for the outbreak of Nipah virus in May that killed 17 persons in Kerala.
"Scientists have found conclusive evidence of Nipah virus infection in the fruit bats found in the area," said J P Nadda, Union health and family welfare minister, as per a Hindustan Times report.
It is worth noting that the tests for Nipah virus were positive for the second batch of bats sent for testing. The first batch of 21 bats sent for testing in May had resulted in negative result.
According to reports, wrong bat species were trapped and tested in May. The second batch of 55 bats included fruit bats.
Spread of Nipah virus to humans may occur after close contact with other Nipah infected people, infected bats, or infected pigs. Bat secretions laden with virus can infect people during fruit tree climbing, eating/handling contaminated fallen fruits or consuming raw date palm sap/juice or toddy.
Kerala government declared Kozhikode and Malappuram districts free of the virus on Sunday after no new human cases were reported after June 1. Of the 17 deaths, 14 occurred in Khozikode and three in Malappuram.
The WHO named Nipah as one of the eight priority diseases that could cause a global epidemic, alongside the likes of Ebola and Zika. The health body, however, has not issued any specific advice to countries that have not been affected by the Nipah but has asked them to enhance the level of preparedness.