In 1998, an viral outbreak affected parts of Malaysia, first killing a large number of pigs and then infecting their human handlers. They passed on the disease to their families. Half the people who caught the infection died. The infection was first thought to be Japanese encephalitis but a new virus was identified as the disease causing agent in the town of Kampung Sungai Nipah. The virus was named the Nipah virus.
In India this virus has hit the state of Kerala and it has been assumed that the reason for this was fruit bats. But as more and more reports are coming in it has been reported that fruit bats may not be the real cause of the virus that has killed 12 people and infected 20 in southern Kerala.
Health officials had also said that the deaths that have happened could be linked to a well which has been colonised by bats at a house in Kozikhode in Kerala where four members of the same family died in the house.
The samples sent to Bhopal lab included those taken from bats found in the house of the Kerala family, which is believed to be the epicenter of the disease. Officials found “many dead bats” in a well in that home.
The family was treated by Nurse Lini Puthussery, who also died on last week and left a heart-breaking note for her husband, which said “take care of our children”.
According to experts, these could just be the initial findings and requires more investigations. Authorities have now decided to conduct more tests to locate its source. The virus, spread through contact with bodily fluids, has a mortality rate of about 70 percent.
WHO has named Nipah Virus as a disease which is on their priority list alongside diseases like Ebola and Zika and they fear that it can cause a global epidemic.