Frequently Asked Questions: Nipah Virus

What is Nipah virus?

Nipah virus is a type of virus that can infect people and cause severe illness.

Where is Nipah virus found?

Nipah virus was first discovered in 1999 following a large outbreak in Malaysia and Singapore. Sizeable outbreaks also occurred in West Bengal, India in 2001, and in Bangladesh in 2004. In 2018, an outbreak was reported in the Kerala state of India, which is currently ongoing. Other countries thought to be at risk for Nipah virus include Australia, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Madagascar, Taiwan, Thailand, Bhutan, Brunei, Laos, Madagascar, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, and Vietnam.

How do people get Nipah virus?

People can get Nipah virus from contact with the excrement or droppings of infected fruit bats, pigs, or from other people infected with Nipah virus. People can also get infected with Nipah virus when they consume raw date palm sap (a drink found in parts of Asia) that is contaminated with bat droppings.

Do animals get sick from Nipah virus?

The main reservoir, or carrier, animal of Nipah virus is a species of fruit bat found in Southeast Asia. Fruit bats do not get sick from Nipah virus. However, they can pass the virus to other animals such as pigs, which can get sick. These animals can then pass the virus along to people.

How can people spread Nipah virus to each other?

Nipah virus is spread from person to person through contact with infectious body fluids from another person such as nasal or respiratory droplets, urine, or blood.

How can people protect themselves from getting Nipah virus?

People can protect themselves from getting Nipah virus by limiting their contact with fruit bats and sick pigs in affected areas of Southeast Asia, and by not drinking raw date palm sap. People should also avoid direct contact with body fluids from infected patients by wearing appropriate personal protective equipment such as gloves, gown, and facemask, and practicing good hand hygiene.

What are the symptoms of Nipah virus?

Typically, people become ill between 5 to 14 days after they are infected. Initial symptoms can include fever, headache, nausea and vomiting, shortness of breath, and may worsen to include drowsiness, confusion, and coma. Death can occur in as many as 80% of cases.

What is the treatment for Nipah virus?

At this time, the only treatment for Nipah virus is supportive care. There are no antivirals or other medicines that have been found to conclusively treat Nipah virus infection in people.

Is there a vaccine for Nipah virus?

There is currently no vaccine available for Nipah virus.