NIPAH VIRUS IN BATS

  • A recent survey has found the presence of antibodies against the Nipah virus (NiV) in some bat species from a cave in Mahabaleshwar, a popular hill station in Maharashtra.
  • The survey was conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) – National Institute of Virology (NIV).

Important points:

  • The NIV team looked at Rousettus leschenaultii and Pipistrellus pipistrellus bats that are common in India.
  • Pteropus medius bats, which are large fruit-eating bats, are the reservoir for NiV in India as both NiV RNA and antibodies were detected in the samples of these bats collected during previous NiV outbreaks.
  • A bat’s immune system is especially adept at withstanding viral infection because of its ability to limit excessive inflammation — which uniquely allows viruses to thrive without proving deadly to the mammal.

Nipah virus (NiV):

  • It is a zoonotic virus (it is transmitted from animals to humans).
  • The organism which causes Nipah Virus encephalitis is an RNA or Ribonucleic acid virus of the family Paramyxoviridae, genus Henipavirus, and is closely related to Hendra virus.
  • Hendra virus (HeV) infection is a rare emerging zoonosis that causes severe and often fatal disease in both infected horses and humans.
  • It first broke out in Malaysia and Singapore in 1998 and 1999.
  • It first appeared in domestic pigs and has been found among several species of domestic animals including dogs, cats, goats, horses and sheep.
  • The disease spreads through fruit bats or ‘flying foxes,’ of the genus Pteropus, who are natural reservoir hosts of the Nipah and Hendra viruses.
  • The virus is present in bat urine and potentially, bat faeces, saliva, and birthing fluids.
  • The human infection presents as an encephalitic syndrome marked by fever, headache, drowsiness, disorientation, mental confusion, coma, and potentially death.
  • Currently, there are no vaccines for both humans and animals. Intensive supportive care is given to humans infected by Nipah virus.

SOURCE: THE HINDU,THE ECONOMIC TIMES SMINT

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