Bat surveillance: experts asked to submit report in a month

The periodic surveillance of bats involving Forest, Health and Animal Husbandry departments will cover river banks from Kasaragod to Ernakulam.   | Photo Credit: File photo

The State government is learnt to have taken some preliminary steps towards a comprehensive surveillance of bats against the backdrop of recurring instances of infections such as Nipah in Kerala in the past few years.

Sources told The Hindu on Wednesday that a meeting of officials from the departments of Health, Animal Husbandry and Forests and Wildlife was held recently. Arun Zachariah, Wildlife Veterinary Surgeon, Forests and Wildlife, has been asked to submit a project report within a month. A senior official with the Animal Husbandry Department said a surveillance project supervised by Dr. Zachariah was under way in Uttar Pradesh. “It will be examined if a similar initiative can be taken up in Kerala as well in line with the conditions here. The project report will be submitted to the State Institute of Animal Diseases, Thiruvananthapuram,” he added. The periodic surveillance involving the above three departments will cover river banks from Kasaragod to Ernakulam.

K.K. Baby, District Coordinator, Animal Disease Control Project Office, Kozhikode, said all viral infections caused by bats, including Japanese Encephalitis, would be part of the project. Meanwhile, the Forest Department has begun a bat survey in parts of Kozhikode district. This follows detection of Nipah virus antibodies (IgG antibodies) in bat samples collected by the National Institute of Virology, Pune, from Kodiyathoor and Thamarassery a few weeks ago. The body fluid samples of bats are expected to be sent to the department’s lab in Wayanad.

A proposal for the purpose was moved by Health Minister Veena George, as Nipah infection had been reported in Kerala thrice since 2018. Kozhikode reported the first outbreak and a single case, and a death occurred here in September this year too. Some victims in 2018 were from Malappuram district. In 2019, another single case was reported in Ernakulam district.

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Printable version | Dec 8, 2021 8:47:40 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/bat-surveillance-experts-asked-to-submit-report-in-a-month/article37201854.ece

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