Nipah

​​What to look for

Nipah virus causes clinical disease humans and animals (mainly pigs). Infected pigs may show signs of respiratory distress, nasal discharge, non-productive cough and lethargy.
In humans, symptoms can include fever, headache, dizziness, vomiting, reduced consciousness and respiratory distress.

What you can do

  • Do not move live animals, meat or meat products, untanned hides or skins, or other animal products out of the Torres Strait Protected Zone to the Torres Strait Permanent Biosecurity Monitoring Zone, or from either zone to mainland Australia without a permit and an inspection by a Department of Agriculture and Water Resources biosecurity officer.
  • Report any signs of illness in pigs to the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.
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Live animals, meat and dairy products, untanned hides and skins and other animal products need a permit to move south between zones and to mainland Australia.

Profile

Nipah virus  affects humans and animals (mainly pigs). The first documented cases were recorded in Malaysia in 1998 and outbreaks have since occurred in Singapore, India and Bangladesh. Fruit bats are the natural reservoir host of both Nipah virus and the closely related Hendra virus, although no signs of disease are seen in these species.

Identification

Infected pigs display clinical signs of respiratory distress, nasal discharge, a non-productive cough and lethargy. In humans, Nipah virus causes fever, headache, dizziness, vomiting, reduced consciousness and respiratory distress. Death has occurred in 40-75 per cent of human cases.

Distribution

Fruit bats tested on surveys throughout South East Asia and Papua New Guinea have been shown to have antibodies to Nipah and other closely related viruses and are known to migrate between Australia and neighbouring countries (Field et al., 2013. Henipaviruses and Fruit Bats, Papua New Guinea. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 19, 670-671.). This suggests that outbreaks may occur over a much wider area (wherever these fruit bat populations are found) than has so far been reported.

Threat

Australia is currently free of Nipah virus, however, an incursion of this virus would have serious consequences for both animal and human health. Over one million pigs were slaughtered in Malaysia in an attempt to control this disease.

Keep a Top Watch!

Keep a watch on wild pigs and if you see sick pigs or more deaths than usual, call the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.

For further information or advice contact NAQS.

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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