Possible antibodies against Nipah virus detected in bats from Mahabaleshwar cave: Study
Researchers collected blood, throat and rectal swab samples from anaesthetised bats inside a cave in Maharashtra's Mahabaleshwar
June 22, 2021 / 08:54 AM IST
Hundreds of bats in a cave (Representative image: Reuters/Bernardo Montoya)
A survey by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Institute of Virology has picked up samples with the possible presence of antibodies against the Nipah virus in some bat species from a cave in Mahabaleshwar, a popular hill station in Maharashtra.
The survey was aimed at studying the prevalence of the Nipah virus (NiV) – one of the top-10 global priority list pathogens identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) – in bats of India.
India has experienced four NiV outbreaks, with the case fatality rate between 65 percent and 100 percent. The most recent outbreak started in Kerala in 2018. Southern Asian countries and some Indian states have been identified as potential hotspots for the disease.
The new study titled ‘Detection of possible Nipah virus infection in Rousettus leschenaultii and Pipistrellus Pipistrellus bats in Maharashtra, India’ and published in the Journal of Infection and Public Health has found NiV and its antibodies in different bat species.
In March 2020, two species of bats, Rousettus leschenaultii and Pipistrellus pipistrellus were trapped by researchers using mist nets in a cave in Mahabaleshwar.
Blood, throat and rectal swab samples were collected onsite from anaesthetised bats “strictly adhering to bio-safety protocols”, the published survey report suggested.
Necropsy was performed at the containment facility of ICMR and NIV. RNA was extracted from a throat swab, rectal swab, and organ samples (kidney, liver, and spleen), researchers said.
However, researchers said it is difficult to infer any conclusion as only a few bats were screened during the present study. “A systematic approach that includes sampling a large number of Pipistrellus and Rousettus bats is necessary to determine their role in NiV transmission,” the researchers added.