NEJM Study, Commentary Address Knowledge Gaps For Nipah Virus, Call For Greater Epidemic Preparedness

CIDRAP News: Study highlights caregiver risk, respiratory role in Nipah
A new study based on 14 years of Nipah virus infections in Bangladesh — the country hit hardest by the disease — revealed an elevated risk to caregivers, the role of respiratory secretions, and other new clues about what fuels transmission among humans, findings that could help control future outbreaks. An international group of researchers published its findings [Thursday] in the New England Journal of Medicine. Nipah virus, a paramyxovirus spread by bats found throughout South and Southeast Asia, is one of nine World Health Organization (WHO) priority diseases for research and development. … In an accompanying commentary in the same journal, Jeremy Farrar, MD, PhD, director of the Wellcome Trust, said Bangladesh has experienced a Nipah virus outbreak every year since 2001, but large gaps remain in understanding the virus, including how it crossed to India in 2018 to trigger an outbreak in Kerala. Alluding to the WHO research priority list, which includes a yet-unknown ‘disease X,’ he said Nipah virus was disease X until 20 years ago, and to better prepare for future epidemics, the world needs to expect them…” (Schnirring, 5/9).

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