The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has confirmed that fruit bats were the primary source of the Nipah outbreak in Kozhikode and Malappuram Districts, where 17 people died due to the virus earlier this year.
Initially, a Central medical team had ruled out bats as the primary source of the infection after samples collected from bats in two Kerala districts tested negative.
Later, another medical team, in its report to the Union Health Ministry, said bats could not be ruled out as the samples were collected from insectivorous bats, which were not known to be Nipah carriers.
In the second round, samples from 55 fruit bats were collected and sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune,
An ICMR official said the samples from fruit bats tested positive for the virus, confirming that they were the source of Nipah infection in Kozhikode and Malappuram district.
The natural host of the virus is fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family, Pteropus genus. Intermediate Hosts of this instance were found to be pigs.