Hazards of eating naturally dead horses: Nipah virus in the Philippines

Thursday, 13 November, 2014

Nipah virus has been identified as the cause of deaths of people, cats and dogs in the Philippines associated with the butchering and consumption of dead horses. In a paper just published in Emerging Infectious Diseases Ching et al (2014) describe the two outbreaks which occurred earlier in 2014 and the identification of the agent as a henipavirus most closely related to Nipah virus (NiV).

The unusual aspects of these outbreaks were:
1) the virus spilled over into horses; NiV has not been reported in horses previously;
2) secondary transmission occurred to multiple species - humans, dogs and cats with deaths in all specues;
3) human to human transmission occurred. This has been reported for NiV in Bangladesh.

Hendra virus (HeV) spills over sporadically from bats to horses in Australia, but has not been reported elsewhere. This virus behaved more like NiV than HeV in terms of ease of transmission.

Ching PKG, de los Reyes CV, Sucaldito MN, Tayag E, Columna-Vingno AB, Malbas FF, et al. Outbreak of henipavirus infection, Philippines, 2014. Emerging Infectious Diseases. Pre-publication. http://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid2102.141433

Posted by Rick Speare