History

In 1998 and 1999 a new disease that spread among pigs, characterized by respiratory and neurologic symptoms and sometimes accompanied by sudden death of sows and boars, occurred in Malaysia and Singapore. The original name proposed for this new pig disease was porcine respiratory and neurological syndrome or "barking pig syndrome." The disease occurred in close association with an epidemic of encephalitis in pig farmers. In Malaysia, more than 265 encephalitis cases in humans occurred with a mortality rate of approximately 40%. A new paramyxovirus was found and named Nipah virus. The outbreak stopped after pigs in the affected area were destroyed. In Singapore in 1999, 11 workers in an abattoir developed an encephalitis or pneumonia resulting in one death. Importation of pigs from Malaysia was banned. The virus was found to be transmitted to other animals including dogs, cats, and horses. An outbreak in 2004 in Bangladesh has been recently reported with a 60% to 70% mortality rate.

The mode of transmission in the Bangladesh outbreak has not been determined. Because of its high mortality rate and spread to domestic animals, this agent has the potential to be considered an agent of bioterrorism (32-37).

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