Emerging Infectious Diseases: NIH reports breakthrough in search for protection against deadly HENDRA and NAPIH viruses ~ California officers confirm MOUNTAIN LION sightings in Pismo Beach ~ RABIES reports from Arizona, California (2), Florida, Maryland, & New Jersey ~ and a WEST NILE VIRUS report from California.

Australian Grey Headed Fruit Bat (aka Flying Fox) with baby. Photo by Mnolf. Wikimedia Commons.

Emerging Infectious Diseases:

HENDRA VIRUS (formerly called Equine Morbillivirus) and NAPIH VIRUS are members of the family Paramyxoviridae.  The natural reservoir for both is thought to be FRUIT BATS (aka Flying Foxes) of the genus Pteropus. The drug ribavirin has been shown to be effective against both viruses in vitro. However, controlled drug investigations have not been performed and the clinical usefulness of these drugs is uncertain. On October 19, 2011, the National Institutes of Health issued a News Release reporting that a human antibody given to African Green MONKEYS infected with Hendra virus completely protected them from disease. The research group is now exploring whether that protection extends to Napih virus disease. The human antibody is known as m102.4.

Hendra virus was first isolated in 1994 from specimens obtained during an outbreak of respiratory and neurologic disease in HORSES and HUMANS in Hendra, a suburb of Brisbane, Australia. The human infections were due to direct exposure to body fluids and excretions from infected horses. According to the CDC, only three human cases of Hendra virus have been recognized and two of the three patients had a respiratory illness with severe flu-like signs and symptoms. One of the human infections was marked by a delayed onset of progressive encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). Two of the three human patients infected with Hendra virus died. In May 2010, shortly after the NIH study in monkeys successfully concluded, Australian health officials requested m102.4 for emergency use in a woman and her 12-year-old daughter who had been exposed to Hendra virus from an infected horse. Both the woman and child survived and showed no ill effects from the treatment. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there have been seven human Hendra cases through 2008 with four fatalities. Since June 2011, there have been 18 equine Hendra virus outbreaks in Australia, primarily in Queensland and New South Wales, with the latest reported October 10.

Napih virus was first isolated in 1999 during an outbreak of encephalitis and respiratory illness among adult men in Malaysia and Singapore. It has also been found in Bangladesh, and in India. The human infections, as well as some CAT and DOG infections, were traced to close contact with infected PIGS. The illness begins with 3 to 14 days of fever and headache and is associated with an encephalitis characterized by fever, drowsiness, coma, seizure, and an inability to maintain breathing. Complications after recovery might include persistent convulsions and personality changes. During the Napih virus disease outbreak in 1998-99, about 40% of the patients with serious nervous disease who entered hospitals died, but according to the National Institutes of Health, Napih virus has a mortality rate greater than 75%. WHO reports 475 human cases of Napih through 2008 with 251 deaths.

Neither Hendra virus nor Napih virus disease is known to have spread from human to human. There have been no known cases of either virus as yet diagnosed in the United States. However, these viruses are recent discoveries, and much work remains to be done on their geographic distribution and the reservoir species. Early recognition of the diseases in horses, swine, or perhaps some other intermediate animal host is probably the most crucial means of limiting their geographic range and future human cases.


(1) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/spb/mnpages/dispages/Fact_Sheets/Hendra_Nipah%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf , and

(2) National Institutes of Health at http://www.niaid.nih.gov/news/newsreleases/2011/Pages/HendraVirus.aspx

California 10/19/11 Pismo Beach, San Luis Obispo County: Police confirm MOUNTAIN LION sightings at Chumash Park. See http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2011/10/19/1802490/mountain-lion-sighted-in-pismo.html

Arizona 10/17/11 Humane Society of Yuma: Officers search for animals involved in separate biting incidents; a black Chihuahua DOG, and a black & white CAT to determine need for RABIES treatment. For details see http://www.yumasun.com/news/rabies-73803-animal-bite.html

California 10/18/11 Hesperia, Los Angeles County: Officials seek those who may have had contact with a BAT at the Silverwood State Recreation Area over Labor Day weekend. A BAT found in the Black Oak area bathrooms tested positive for RABIES. See http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/news/ci_19139228

California 10/18/11 Redding, Shasta County: Officials search for Beagle DOG involved in biting incident at Alta Mesa Park to determine need for RABIES treatment. See http://www.krcrtv.com/news/29523002/detail.html

Florida 10/18/11 Melbourne, Brevard County: RABIES WARNING issued after RACCOON tested positive for the virus. See http://www.myfoxorlando.com/dpp/news/brevard_news/101811-rabies-warning-for-brevard-county

Maryland 10/18/11 Clear Spring, Washington County: RABIES ALERT issues after adopted FERAL KITTEN tested positive for the virus. See http://www.herald-mail.com/news/local/hm-rabies-alert-issued-in-clear-spring-after-kitten-tests-positive-20111018,0,418505.story

New Jersey 10/20/11 North Brunswick, Middlesex County: SKUNK that attacked a DOG tested positive for RABIES and both animals euthanized. See http://ns.gmnews.com/news/2011-10-20/Front_Page/Dog_euthanized_after_attack_by_rabid_skunk_in_No_B.html

California 10/19/11 Contra Costa Mosquito & Vector Control District: More WEST NILE VIRUS infected BIRDS and MOSQUITOES collected this week. See http://clayton.patch.com/articles/update-west-nile-virus-season-still-going-strong-more-infected-birds-mosquitoes-found-029d25bf


2 responses to “Emerging Infectious Diseases: NIH reports breakthrough in search for protection against deadly HENDRA and NAPIH viruses ~ California officers confirm MOUNTAIN LION sightings in Pismo Beach ~ RABIES reports from Arizona, California (2), Florida, Maryland, & New Jersey ~ and a WEST NILE VIRUS report from California.

  1. Recent WNV studies call to change the focus from crows to robins; () interestingly, the information presented in the aforementioned study still find crows and jays as major WNV carriers.

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