Nipah virus is a zoonotic virus that was first identified in Malaysia and Singapore in 1999 during an outbreak of severe encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) in humans and respiratory illness in pigs. The virus is named after the village in Malaysia where the initial outbreak occurred.

Nipah virus belongs to the Paramyxoviridae family and is closely related to Hendra virus. It is primarily transmitted to humans from animals, particularly fruit bats (flying foxes), which are considered the natural reservoir. The virus can be transmitted directly from bats to humans through contact with bat urine, saliva, or droppings, or indirectly through the consumption of fruits contaminated by bat secretions or saliva.

Human-to-human transmission of Nipah virus has also been documented, particularly in close contact settings such as family or healthcare settings. Transmission can occur through direct contact with bodily fluids or respiratory droplets of infected individuals.

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