Henipaviruses: a new family of emerging Paramyxoviruses.Pathol Biol (Paris). 2009 Mar; 57(2):188-96.PB
Paramyxoviruses have been implicated in both animal and human infections. Some viruses, such as Morbilliviruses are responsible for large-scale epidemics. However, there are limited observations of these viruses crossing the host species barrier in nature. In 1994, in Australia a fatal infection in horses and humans was identified to be caused by a new Paramyxovirus, Hendra virus (HeV), and in 1998 in Malaysia, a closely related virus, Nipah virus (NiV) was responsible for fatal infections in pigs and humans. These two viruses were sufficiently different from previously described Paramyxoviruses to create a new genus, Henipaviruses. The natural reservoir of these viruses was the fruit bat (Pteropus), which is found in regions extending from the western Pacific to the eastern coast of Africa. Serological studies have established that as many as half the fruit bats in colonies throughout these regions may have antibodies against this family of viruses. The availability of diagnostic reagents for Nipah virus in humans have identified infections in several countries including, Bangladesh, India and Indonesia. In some of these epidemics, mortality in humans exceeds 75%. Deforestation is probably responsible for fruit bats leaving their ecological niches and approaching farms and villages. The infection of humans and animals may occur via contaminated foods or in certain cases by animals to man. At present, only within close families has human-to-human transmission been proposed. Henipavirus infections are probably more widespread than it is at presently known and so it is important to have an intense monitoring for these diseases, especially in countries where large-scale deforestation is happening.