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Nipah Virus Transmission in a Hamster Model

Public Library of Science
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0001432
  • Research Article
  • Biology
  • Microbiology
  • Medicine
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Biology
  • Medicine


Based on epidemiological data, it is believed that human-to-human transmission plays an important role in Nipah virus outbreaks. No experimental data are currently available on the potential routes of human-to-human transmission of Nipah virus. In a first dose-finding experiment in Syrian hamsters, it was shown that Nipah virus was predominantly shed via the respiratory tract within nasal and oropharyngeal secretions. Although Nipah viral RNA was detected in urogenital and rectal swabs, no infectious virus was recovered from these samples, suggesting no viable virus was shed via these routes. In addition, hamsters inoculated with high doses shed significantly higher amounts of viable Nipah virus particles in comparison with hamsters infected with lower inoculum doses. Using the highest inoculum dose, three potential routes of Nipah virus transmission were investigated in the hamster model: transmission via fomites, transmission via direct contact and transmission via aerosols. It was demonstrated that Nipah virus is transmitted efficiently via direct contact and inefficiently via fomites, but not via aerosols. These findings are in line with epidemiological data which suggest that direct contact with nasal and oropharyngeal secretions of Nipah virus infected individuals resulted in greater risk of Nipah virus infection. The data provide new and much-needed insights into the modes and efficiency of Nipah virus transmission and have important public health implications with regards to the risk assessment and management of future Nipah virus outbreaks.

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