Prompted by Valhall's recent Global Security Report for 04/29/04
Bangladesh's recent virus outbreak with an alarming mortality rate, as high as 74% (17 deaths out of 23 confirmed infections), I have done a bit of
research on the situation.
WHO- Nipah Virus Overview
Nipah virus is a newly recognized zoonotic virus. The virus was 'discovered' in 1999. It has caused disease in animals and in humans, through
contact with infectious animals. The virus is named after the location where it was first detected in Malaysia. Nipah is closely related to another
newly recognized zoonotic virus (1994), called Hendra virus, named after the town where it first appeared in Australia. Both Nipah and Hendra are
members of the virus family Paramyxoviridae. Although members of this group of viruses have only caused a few focal outbreaks, the biologic property
of these viruses to infect a wide range of hosts and to produce a disease causing significant mortality in humans has made this emerging viral
infection a public heath concern.
Scientists suspect that certain species of fruit bats most the Nipah virus, although they do not become ill from it. The vector responsible for
transmission from bats to humans is currently unknown. The incubation period of the disease is between 4 and 18 days in humans with generally mild
onset of “flu-like” symptoms. The symptoms may progress to inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), disorientation, convulsions, coma and death. The
risk of transmission of Nipah virus from sick animals to humans is thought to be low, and transmission from person-to-person has not yet been
documented, even in the context of a large outbreak. Epidemiologic characteristics of the outbreak in Bangladesh suggested the possibility of
person-to-person transmission. Investigators from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, and other
international healthcare organizations have again been dispatched to collect data on the outbreaks.
No drug therapies have yet been proven to be effective in treating Nipah infection. Treatment relies on providing intensive supportive care. There
is some evidence that early treatment with the antiviral drug, Ribavirin, can reduce both the duration of feverish illness and the severity of
disease. However, the efficacy of this treatment in curing disease or improving survival is still uncertain.
CDC- Nipah Virus Encephalitis
Health Canada - Travel Health Advisory