A Bangladeshi health ministry official said at a Jan 29 briefing that eight Nipah virus cases have been reported this year, five of them fatal, according to RisingBD, an online news portal in Bangladesh that publishes in both Bengali and English.
The total is up from three cases, all fatal, reported a week ago, though no details were available about the most recent cases.
Officials suspect that people were sickened after drinking raw date juice, which can be contaminated by the saliva or feces from bats that carry the virus and feed on the date juice. Health officials urged people to avoid drinking raw date juice and to avoid consuming dates that are half-eaten by birds.
Over the past 6 years, Bangladesh has reported just a few Nipah virus infections annually. For example, in 2022 the country reported three cases.
There are no treatments or vaccines for Nipah virus, which often causes severe or fatal infections that involve respiratory problems or encephalitis. The World Health Organization and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) have designated Nipah virus a high-priority pathogen, due to its pandemic and bioterrorism potential.