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What are the henipaviruses?

The henipaviruses – Hendra Virus (HeV) and Nipah Virus (NiV) – emerged during the 1990s in Australia and Southeast Asia. Harbored by fruit bats, they cause potentially fatal encephalitis and respiratory disease in humans, with a devastating 75 percent fatality rate. More recently, NiV outbreaks in Bangladesh involving human-to-human transmission have focused attention on NiV as a global health concern.

Like the avian flu, SARS, and Ebola viruses, Hendra and Nipah are zoonotic pathogens, originating in certain animals but can also jump between animal species and between animals and humans. There are currently no vaccines or treatments against the two henipaviruses, which are listed by the U.S. government as possible bioterror agents.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.