Monday 2 January 2006
Within the past decade a number of new zoonotic paramyxoviruses emerged from flying foxes to cause serious disease outbreaks in man and livestock.
Nipah virus caused encephalitis in humans both in Malaysia in 1998/99, following silent spread of the virus in the pig population, and in Bangladesh from 2001 to 2004 probably as a result of direct bat to human transmission and spread within the human population.
Hendra and Nipah viruses are highly pathogenic in humans with case fatality rates of 40% to 70%.
Their genetic constitution, virulence and wide host range make them unique paramyxoviruses and they have been given Biosecurity Level 4 status in a new genus Henipavirus within the family Paramyxoviridae.