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Nipah Encephalitis in Bangladesh (Update)

20 Mar 2013

As of 12 March 2013, a total of 19 cases of Nipah virus encephalitis have been recorded in Bangladesh this season; of those, 17 died (mortality rate 89%). These cases are from 13 districts including Gaibandha, Natore, Rajshahi, Naogaon, Rajbari, Pabna, Jhenaidah, Mymensingh, Nilphamari, Chittagong, Kurigram and Kustia. Age distribution of cases is 8 months to 55 years; 13 males and 6 females.

Nipah virus infection is an ongoing problem in Bangladesh as it is spread through the consumption of raw date sap which has been contaminated by fruit bats that carry the virus. Drinking raw date sap in the morning is popular in Bangladesh, particularly in rural areas.

The Health Ministry is to launch an awareness campaign this season as the infection has a fatality rate of almost 80%. The infection is preventable, either by not consuming raw date sap or by boiling the sap first which will destroy the virus.

Advice for Travellers

Travellers should be made aware of the risk of Nipah encephalitis in Bangladesh, particularly if visiting between January-April. Travellers should be advised to refrain from drinking raw date sap.