by Kathy Jones on  February 5, 2011 at 6:42 PM General Health News
 Nipah Virus Causes 15 Deaths in Bangladesh
Health officials have confirmed that at least 15 people have died in an outbreak of Nipah virus in a remote northern Bangladesh town as the deadly disease returned to the country.

Nipah induces flu-like symptoms that often lead to encephalitis and coma, with at least a 70 percent mortality rate in Bangladesh.

The latest outbreak was confirmed Friday in Hatibandha in Lalmonirhat district.

"So far, we have had 24 people affected by the Nipah virus in Hatibandha," said Mahmudur Rahman, a senior health official.

"Of the total, 15 have died and several people are in critical condition," he said.

At least 113 people, excluding the latest victims, have died of the virus in Bangladesh since the first outbreak in 2001.

The government in Dhaka has set up a detection laboratory to speed up testing for any outbreak.

In 2004, nearly 40 people died in two central districts, and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was called in to help combat the disease.

The virus, named after the Malaysian village where it was first detected, jumped the species barrier from fruit bats to pigs and then to humans in October 1998. It is believed to be caught through direct contact with pigs.

In 1999, 256 people in Malaysia fell ill with the disease, and four in 10 patients died. More than a million pigs were slaughtered to help curb its spread.

Source: AFP

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