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Nipah scare in Himachal after 8 dead bats found in school, alert sounded

Nipah virus scare spread in a Himachal village after 8 dead bats were found on the premises of a government school in Nahan. Officials took samples of the bats for investigation .

india Updated: May 25, 2018 09:23 IST
Hindustan Times, Nahan (Himachal Pradesh)
dead bats,Himachal Pradesh,Nipah virus
Ten people have died of the Nipah virus in Kerala so far.(PTI)

Authorities in Himachal Pradesh on Thursday sounded an alert in the state after eight dead bats were found inside a government school in Sirmaur district’s Nahan town on Wednesday as the death toll in Kerala rose to 12 from the Nipah virus, a deadly infection which spreads mainly through the winged mammals.

The news triggered panic among locals in Barma Papdi of Nahan after a group of students, who were playing in the area, brought a dead bat to the school.

Suparna Bharadwaj, principal of the school, said she immediately alerted the authorities after the dead bats were spotted.

Sirmaur’s deputy commissioner Lalit Jain said district administration officials took samples of the dead bat and sent it for testing.

“There were eight bats that were found dead. On the face of it, it appears that bats died due to heat and we have confirmed the same from locals. However, taking precautionary measures, samples of bats have been sent to Pune’s National Institute of Virology,” Jain added.

The district administration also sent the deputy director of the animal husbandry department and divisional forest officer to take stock of the situation.

“Bats are not new to these areas. However, their number is higher this time. We have learnt that a cook had set up a makeshift kitchen to prepare community meal and the excess heat led to the death of bats,” Sirmaur’s chief medical officer Sanjay Sharma said.

“We can ascertain the cause (of death) only once we receive a report from the virology institute,” he added.

The state wildlife department also directed the field staff to keep tabs on bat population.

“Himachal has lots of species of bats. Many species have already been declared vermin,” a forest department official said.

Kullu’s deputy commissioner Yunus held a meeting with district health authorities to make necessary arrangement to tackle the situation in case of an outbreak of the Nipah virus.

The death toll from the Nipah virus in Kerala rose to 12 after a 62-year-old man became the latest victim of the rare disease in Kozhikode and two new cases were confirmed in Malappuram district on Thursday, a day after the Union health ministry said it was able to contain the “highly localised infection”.

First Published: May 24, 2018 08:23 IST