Nipah virus (NiV) is the new scary term after Coronavirus during the pandemic. Kerala is seeing a surge in Nipah virus cases; some deaths are reported.
The first step to stop the virus from spreading is by PREVENTION!
To begin with, we need to learn that this Nipah virus is a zoonotic virus, meaning that it initially spreads between animals and people. Animals, Fruit Bats also known as flying foxes are natural reservoirs of this NiV. The body fluids like Blood, Saliva and Urine of the infected- either Bat or Pig can infect Humans or we can get infected directly by eating fruits that are bitten by Bats.
Once humans get infected, they can pass on to fellow human beings with body fluids, and secretions.
What are Fruit Bats, their Breeding Season, Home and Diet?
Fruit Bats as the name indicates, consume fruits. They cling upside down on trees laden with fruits and need tall trees for it. These Bats sleep for most of the day and become active after sunset.
These animals generally stay away from human beings and other animals. They need fruit-bearing trees to cling on, survive and reproduce. Their breeding season is from July to October.
The First Outbreak of NiV and its Impact
The Nipah Virus (NiV) was discovered for the first time in 1999 after an outbreak of disease in pigs and people in Malaysia and Singapore. There was a substantial impact on human and animal life and on the economy due to this virus outbreak.
NiV caused infection in hundreds of humans.100 deaths were recorded in humans, and many were infected. 1 million pigs were culled to prevent the outbreak.
How to Keep Bats at Bay
Fruit Bats or Flying Foxes are important to the ecosystem, as they help in the pollination of the plants, which is required for fruit production. However, any species that creates a health crisis in an ecosystem must be controlled.
Bats eat fruits like Apples, pears, peaches, cherries, blueberries, etc. They also are known to eat flowers and leaves. They transmit the virus to humans with their bite on fruit, or any excreta dropping on it.
Steps to Keep Bats Away
1. Get Rid of Fruit Bats’ Food Source and Remove dead branches on trees where Bats can cling. 2. Scare away Fruit Bats with Bright lights – Keep lights above the trees, especially during nights when they are active 3. Install motion-activated water sprinklers- this will drive them away from eating fruits 4. Install Netting to Control Bats
After doing all measures, we must also make sure that we always clean our hands, fruits and vegetables properly before we eat.
How can we forget the good hygienic practices we followed during the COVID-19 pandemic? COVID-19 has passed away. Nipah will too.