Transmission of Nipah virus — 14 years of investigations in Bangladesh

Nikolay, Birgit ; Salje, Henrik ; Hossain, Jahangir ; Khan, Dawlat ; Sazzad, Hossain M. S. ; Rahman, Mahmudur ; Daszak, Peter ; Stroher, Ute ; Pulliam, Juliet R. C. ; Kilpatrick, Marm ; Nichol, Stuart T. ; Klena, John D. ; Sultana, Sharmin ; Afroj, Sayma ; Luby, Stephen P. ; Cauchemez, Simon ; Gurley, Emily S. (2019-05-09)

CITATION: Nikolay, B. et al. 2019. Transmission of Nipah Virus — 14 Years of Investigations in Bangladesh. New England Journal of Medicine, 380(19):1804-1814. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1805376

The original publication is available at https://www.nejm.org/

Article

BACKGROUND: Nipah virus is a highly virulent zoonotic pathogen that can be transmitted between humans. Understanding the dynamics of person-to-person transmission is key to designing effective interventions. METHODS: We used data from all Nipah virus cases identified during outbreak investigations in Bangladesh from April 2001 through April 2014 to investigate case-patient characteristics associated with onward transmission and factors associated with the risk of infection among patient contacts. RESULTS: Of 248 Nipah virus cases identified, 82 were caused by person-to-person transmission, corresponding to a reproduction number (i.e., the average number of secondary cases per case patient) of 0.33 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.19 to 0.59). The predicted reproduction number increased with the case patient’s age and was highest among patients 45 years of age or older who had difficulty breathing (1.1; 95% CI, 0.4 to 3.2). Case patients who did not have difficulty breathing infected 0.05 times as many contacts (95% CI, 0.01 to 0.3) as other case patients did. Serologic testing of 1863 asymptomatic contacts revealed no infections. Spouses of case patients were more often infected (8 of 56 [14%]) than other close family members (7 of 547 [1.3%]) or other contacts (18 of 1996 [0.9%]). The risk of infection increased with increased duration of exposure of the contacts (adjusted odds ratio for exposure of >48 hours vs. ≤1 hour, 13; 95% CI, 2.6 to 62) and with exposure to body fluids (adjusted odds ratio, 4.3; 95% CI, 1.6 to 11). CONCLUSIONS: Increasing age and respiratory symptoms were indicators of infectivity of Nipah virus. Interventions to control person-to-person transmission should aim to reduce exposure to body fluids. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and others.)

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