A day after a 12-year-old boy died of Nipah virus in Kozhikode, Kerala, officials from the district's health and animal husbandry department collected swab samples from a goat reared by the family which had come in contact with the child, to ascertain the source of the infectious disease.
The district health and forest officials today visited the boy's house in Pazhoor in Chathamangalam grama panchayat and collected swab samples from the goat reared by the family which has also died.
The officials have also collected from the region specimens of Rambutan, a fruit that the boy was suspected of having consumed recently, KK Baby, Deputy Director of Animal Husbandry said.
"It is a joint effort of health and forest department and they have collected samples of Rambutan fruits bitten by bats," the official said, adding that specimen samples from fruit bats in the region would be tested for the Nipah virus.
He added, "Whatever samples we have collected, we will send this to RDDL lab in Kannur and State Animal Investigative Disease (SIAD), Thiruvananthapuram for testing. If there is a need of further investigation then we will send it to National Institute of High Security Animal Disease lab."
This is the third time in the past three years that the state has reported a case of the deadly disease. In 2018, the virus had claimed 17 lives in Kozhikode district, pushing the state into a major health crisis. However, it was contained within 1.5 months due to excessive tracing the contacts and declaring an emergency-like situation in Kerala.
The region reports attacks from wild boars and pigs and officials are keeping a watch on these animals.
Dr Arun Sathyan, Assistant Forest Veterinary Officer, said, "We are a keeping a watch on the presence of pigs in the region. Simultaneously, we are also looking for fruit bats. Once it is confirmed that there is a large number of fruit bats in the region, then we will inform the central team and they will carry the necessary procedure to capture them."
He said, "The outbreak of Nipah first took place in Malaysia. According to reports, it was found that the virus spreads through domestic animals. Moreover, the data shows that the source of infection is fruit bats."
On the measures to take capture pigs, Dr Sathyan said, "Currently, we have the data of all pigs that we captured in the last one year. So we have rough idea of the numbers in the region."
He said, "I request people not to eat fruits that are fallen on the ground."Baby added that half-bitten Rambutan or any other fruits is an indication of the presence of fruit bats in the region."
As Kerala grapples with COVID-19, with over 25,000 cases being reported every day, the new case of Nipah virus has deepened the health crisis in the state.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)