Wednesday February 26, 2020

Researchers Develop Model Using Machine Learning to Identify Bat Species that can Spread Nipah Virus

Once infected, people can spread the virus directly to other people, sparking an outbreak. There is no vaccine and the virus has a high mortality rate

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For the study, Machine Learning, a form of Artificial Intelligence, was used to flag bat species with the potential to harbour Nipah. Wikimedia Commons

Researchers have developed a model using Machine Learning (ML) to identify bat species with the potential to host the Nipah virus, with a focus on India. Four new bat species were flagged as surveillance priorities.

“While there is a growing understanding that bats play a role in the transmission of Nipah virus in Southeast Asia, less is known about which species pose the most risk. “Our goal was to help pinpoint additional species with a high likelihood of carrying Nipah, to target surveillance and protect public health,” said Barbara Han from Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in the US.

India is home to an estimated 113 bat species. Just 31 of these species have been sampled for the Nipah virus, and 11 have been found to have antibodies that signal host potential, according to the study published in the journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

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For the study, the research team compiled published data on bat species known to carry Nipah and other henipaviruses globally. Wikimedia Commons

The Nipah virus is a highly lethal, emerging henipavirus that can be transmitted to people from the body fluids of infected bats. Eating fruit or drinking date palm sap that has been contaminated by bats has been flagged as a transmission pathway. Domestic pigs are also bridging hosts that can infect people.

Once infected, people can spread the virus directly to other people, sparking an outbreak. There is no vaccine and the virus has a high mortality rate. For the study, Machine Learning, a form of Artificial Intelligence, was used to flag bat species with the potential to harbour Nipah.

“By looking at the traits of bat species known to carry Nipah globally, our model was able to make predictions about additional bat species residing in India with the potential to carry the virus and transmit it to people. These bats are currently not on the public health radar and are worthy of additional study,” Han said.

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Data included 48 traits of 523 bat species, including information on foraging methods, diet, migration behaviours, geographic ranges and reproduction. Pixabay

For the study, the research team compiled published data on bat species known to carry Nipah and other henipaviruses globally. Data included 48 traits of 523 bat species, including information on foraging methods, diet, migration behaviours, geographic ranges and reproduction.

During the study, their algorithm identified known Nipah-positive bat species with 83 per cent accuracy. It also identified six bat species that occur in Asia, Australia and Oceania that have traits that could make them competent hosts and should be prioritised for surveillance. Four of these species occur in India, two of which are found in Kerala.

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“We set out to make trait-based predictions of likely henipavirus reservoirs near Kerala. Our focus was narrow, but the model was successful in identifying Nipah hosts, demonstrating that this method could serve as a powerful tool in guiding surveillance for Nipah and other disease systems,” said Raina K. Plowright from Montana State University in the US.

“Identifying which species harbour disease is an important first step in surveillance planning. We also need to prioritise research on which virus strains pose the greatest risk to people. Ultimately, the goal is to extinguish risk, not fight fires,” Han concluded. (IANS)

Next Story

Cloud Market in India to Prosper in 2020 Using AI

Indian firms to deeply explore AI-driven Cloud in 2020

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AI and Machine Learning (ML) now driving Cloud, the year 2020 is going to witness more businesses in the country moving their workloads to the Cloud. Pixabay

These are still early days for Cloud as globally, the enterprises still reserve 97 per cent of their IT spend for on-premises jobs and devote just 3 per cent to the Cloud. In India, the story is no different but with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) now driving Cloud, the year 2020 is going to witness more businesses in the country moving their workloads to the Cloud, according to the industry experts.

The Cloud market in India is poised to grow three-fold to $7.1 billion by 2022, according to a latest NASSCOM report.

According to Shailender Kumar, Regional Managing Director, Oracle India, even though we see Cloud taking centre-stage today, its adoption has to accelerate at a much faster rate in the country.

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AI will double productivity, automate customer engagement and will be an inherent feature in applications. Pixabay

“Will our enterprises be ready? By 2025, 80 per cent of all enterprise workloads will move to the Cloud. AI will double productivity, automate customer engagement and will be an inherent feature in applications. Automation will become central to the success of corporations,” Kumar told IANS.

“We are heading into a next-generation Cloud model where organisations will demand access to new technologies, better security, improved price performance, and deep automation capabilities,” Kumar emphasized.

The country is still at the beginning of this titanic shift to the Cloud.

Public Cloud services revenue in India is projected to hit $2.4 billion in 2019 — an increase of 24.3 per cent from 2018, says Gartner.

Although India’s revenue will only represent 1.2 per cent of the global public Cloud services this year, the country ranks among the nine nations whose growth rate will be higher than the global average growth rate going forward.

“I believe that Cloud is a superpower with the potential to change the world for the better. It holds the key to almost every major new technology including mobility, AI and ML and IoT and Edge,” said Pradeep Nair, Vice President and Managing Director, VMware India.

AI is already making its presence felt across domains ranging from healthcare to manufacturing to agriculture.

“I expect this trend to intensify further as India pushes ahead in its cloud adoption journey that will, in turn, drive growth within the AI space. Together, these two potent technologies hold the power to transform billions of lives for the better,” Nair noted.

Cloud application services (SaaS) is on pace to be the fastest-growing market segment in India in 2019, accounting for nearly half of total public Cloud services revenue year-over-year (YoY).

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AI is already making its presence felt across domains ranging from healthcare to manufacturing to agriculture. Pixabay

According to Ramkumar Narayanan, Vice President and Managing Site Director- VMware India R&D, research indicates that AI will account for almost 50 per cent of total Public Cloud services revenue by 2025.

“The next year will see Indian enterprises increasingly exploring Cloud-powered AI solutions to drive productivity, resiliency and profitability. Cloud and AI will underpin every major technology trend from 5G-powered mobility to intrinsic security, cloud native applications, Blockchain and more,” said Narayanan.

The first chapter of enterprise digital transformation in the last decade was characterized by the rapid adoption of Cloud-based technologies and data from more sources to serve clients better, provide a competitive edge and accelerate growth.

Still, only 20 per cent of workloads have moved to the cloud.

“Adoption of cloud technologies within Indian organizations will be on the rise in the next few years, with a majority of them moving towards a Hybrid multi-cloud strategy starting 2020 onwards”, said Vikas Arora, Vice President, Cloud & Cognitive Software & Services, IBM India/South Asia.

“Automation using AI to manage Hybrid multi-cloud complexities, enhanced focus on security, adoption of Kubernetes and Containerization to modernize infrastructure and accelerate application modernization and lastly modernizing the Information Architecture to create self-service data platforms will be the key trends for 2020,” Arora added.

According to Alok Ohrie, President and Managing Director, Dell Technologies, India, the idea that public and private clouds can and will co-exist becomes a clear reality in 2020.

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“Multi-cloud IT strategies supported by hybrid cloud architectures will play a key role in ensuing organizations have better data management and visibility, while also ensuring that their data remains accessible and secure. But private clouds won’t simply exist within the heart of the data centre,” Ohrie stressed.

As 5G and edge deployments continue to rollout, private hybrid clouds will exist at the edge to ensure the real-time visibility and management of data everywhere it lives, he added. (IANS)