Bangladesh has reported its first fatality from the Nipah virus this year, with a man succumbing to the brain-damaging virus after consuming raw date juice. The Nipah virus, transmitted through contact with bodily fluids of infected bats, pigs, or other individuals, was first identified in 1999 during an outbreak in Malaysia.
The recent case was reported in Manikganj, approximately 50 km from the capital Dhaka, marking Bangladesh’s first Nipah virus case in 2024. Tahmina Shirin, the director of the health ministry’s Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control, and Research (IEDCR), stated, “The sample was sent for a laboratory test and it turned positive. We came to know that the person drank raw date sap.”
The health ministry has issued warnings against consuming fruits partially eaten by birds or bats and drinking raw date juice. Nipah virus outbreaks have previously occurred in Bangladesh, India, and Singapore, resulting in over 160 fatalities in Bangladesh alone.
In 2023, Bangladesh witnessed 14 Nipah virus infections, with 10 fatalities, marking the highest number of deaths in seven years, according to the IEDCR. The virus can cause symptoms such as fever, headache, cough, and difficulty breathing, often leading to brain swelling. The fatality rate is estimated to be between 40% to 75%, and currently, there are no specific treatments or vaccines available for the virus, as cautioned by the World Health Organization.