Recurrent zoonotic transmission of Nipah virus into humans, Bangladesh, 2001-2007.


Human Nipah outbreaks recur in a specific region and time of year in Bangladesh. Fruit bats are the reservoir host for Nipah virus. We identified 23 introductions of Nipah virus into human populations in central and northwestern Bangladesh from 2001 through 2007. Ten introductions affected multiple persons (median 10). Illness onset occurred from December through May but not every year. We identified 122 cases of human Nipah infection. The mean age of case-patients was 27 years; 87 (71%) died. In 62 (51%) Nipah virus-infected patients, illness developed 5-15 days after close contact with another Nipah case-patient. Nine (7%) Nipah case-patients transmitted virus to others. Nipah case-patients who had difficulty breathing were more likely than those without respiratory difficulty to transmit Nipah (12% vs. 0%, p = 0.03). Although a small minority of infected patients transmit Nipah virus, more than half of identified cases result from person-to-person transmission. Interventions to prevent virus transmission from bats to humans and from person to person are needed.

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