The charge sheet against the viruses is that Hendra virus emerged in 1994, killing prominent Queensland racehorse trainer Vic Rail and 16 horses in Brisbane. Thereafter the trainer of Vo Rogue, died from respiratory problems soon after he caught the virus from his horses in 1994. Another Nipah virus has killed hundreds of people in Malaysia, Bangladesh and India after jumping from pigs to humans.
News to cheer is that scientists from CSIRO's Australian Animal Health Laboratory, in partnership with US scientists, had developed a vaccine against the viruses that trials had shown offered complete protection in cats.
"There is evidence the recent Bangladesh outbreaks have involved not only direct bat-to-human transmission but most likely human-to-human transmission for the first time. This dramatically changes the level of concern with this virus. The Nipah virus is easy to grow and seems to be readily transmissible," Dr Mungall, CSIRO scientist said.
There have been five other outbreaks since 2001, including four in Bangladesh, where an outbreak last year killed 11 out of 12 people it touched.
"The scary bit is this is progressively getting worse," Dr Mungall said.
The creation of the vaccine was brought about by isolating a protein from the viruses and removing its membrane to make it soluble in blood. In a vaccine it triggers the immune system to produce anti-bodies that immediately destroy the virus.