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Nipah virus in Bangladesh

18 January 2023

Media have reported a death caused by Nipah virus in the city of Rajshah, western Bangladesh. It is reported that the infection was due to drinking raw date juice contaminated by urine or saliva from infected fruit bats.

Professor Tahmina Shirin, director of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), said at least 139 of the 330 known cases in Bangladesh had become infected after drinking raw date juice. Most cases of Nipah virus (71%) reported in Bangladesh are fatal.

Nipah Virus infection (NiV) is a rare zoonotic cause of acute, severe neurological or respiratory disease in humans in parts of South East Asia.

The virus is transmitted mainly from having contact with secretions and tissues of infected domestic animals, or from ingestion of food or fruit juices contaminated with virus-infected fruit bat saliva or urine. Person-to-person transmission can occur.

Advice for Travellers

The risk to the vast majority of travellers is very low; there have been no recorded cases in travellers. The risk of NiV should be discussed with travellers:

  • intending to live or work in basic conditions in Bangladesh, India or South East Asia
  • who may be involved in intensive pig farming in Bangladesh, India or South East Asia

Travellers should be advised to:

  • avoid close contact with fruit bats and bat roosts
  • avoid consumption of food and drink potentially contaminated by fruit bats; raw date palm sap or date juice should be boiled before being consumed and fruit should be thoroughly washed and peeled
  • wear protective clothing and gloves when handling sick animals or participating in slaughter
  • be aware of the risks of infection and practice regular hand washing with soap if caring for ill relatives potentially infected with Nipah
  • follow strict infection control measures for both droplet and contact spread if a healthcare worker looking after patients with suspected or confirmed Nipah

See the TRAVAX Nipah Virus page for further information