Nipah virus disease

The Nipah virus causes a respiratory disease in pigs with a huge zoonotic consequence.

Alternative names: paramyxovirus


This is a totally new disease that became apparent for the first time in September 1998 in Malaysia. In March 1999 a previously unknown virus was isolated from an adult man who died after being in contact with pigs. The virus was identified as an unknown paramyxovirus and the disease was given the name of Nipah disease, named after the town in Malaysia where it was first identified.

The virus causes disease and mortality, both in humans and pigs. In humans, the symptoms can be mild or severe, and include fever, headache, encephalitis, drowsiness, confusion resulting in coma and respiratory failure.  Mortality rate is high and have been found levels up to 40%. Some people have shown no symptoms. Incubation period is 7 to 21 days. In 1999 there were more than 300 cases and 100 deaths.



All ages

  • High fever.
  • Generally morbidity is high but mortality is low.
  • Fast and difficult breathing.
  • Severe and explosive cough.
  • Convulsions, death.



  • In the post-mortem examination the predominant sign is the consolidation of the lungs.
  • The diagnosis is made by serological testing, virus isolation and identification. In infected farms the sows show high levels of antibodies and in the affected areas, antibodies were detected in dogs but not in rats.



  • There is no effective treatment.
  • Because of its zoonotic risk and severity in humans, affected animals are culled.
  • Depopulation of infected farms.

Atlas of pathology

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