The Travel Health and Vaccine Specialists

Health Alert


Nipah virus in India

Updated June 27, 2018

Released: June 19, 2018

What is the situation?
On May 19, 2018, an outbreak of Nipah virus infection was reported in India in the state of Kerala. Infection with Nipah virus is rare but can be very dangerous.

What is Nipah virus?
Nipah virus infection is a disease that can cause severe illness or death in humans and animals. Previous outbreaks have occurred in Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, and Singapore.

Nipah virus is spread to humans through the body fluids of infected animals and humans. This includes:

contact with infected animals, particularly pigs and bats
consumption of food and drink contaminated by the feces, urine or saliva of infected animals
close contact with infected people
There is no vaccine that prevents against or medication that treats Nipah virus infection.

Symptoms of Nipah virus infection range from very mild to severe and include:

muscle pain
sore throat
other neurological signs such as altered consciousness
In severe cases, the infection can progress with symptoms that may include:

shortness of breath and respiratory distress
loss of consciousness
Lasting neurological effects have been reported following Nipah virus infection, including seizures and personality changes.

How can you protect yourself from Nipah virus?
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic at least six weeks before you travel.

Avoid contact with animals, particularly bats and pigs
Wear gloves and protective clothing when:
handling sick animals or their tissues
handling contaminated materials
working in animal slaughterhouses
Eat and drink safely
Avoid food that may have come in contact with animals.
Protect food from bats.
Do not consume food or drink that may have been contaminated by animals such as raw date palm sap/toddy/ juice and partly eaten fruits.
Date palm sap, toddy, or juice should be boiled before consumption.
Fruits should be thoroughly washed and peeled before consumption.
Protect yourself from the spread of germs
Avoid close contact with sick people and their body fluids.
Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially after visiting sick people.
Keep your hands away from your face.
Do not share eating or drinking utensils.
Clean surfaces that are frequently touched (for example: doorknobs and counters).
Health care workers should follow strict infection prevention and control measures. This includes wearing all necessary personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves, gowns, and face shields when caring for patients with suspected or confirmed Nipah virus. Contact and droplet precautions should be taken.
Monitor your health
If you develop symptoms that could be due to Nipah virus infection when you are travelling or after you return to Canada, see a health care provider. Tell them where you have been travelling or living.
If you have symptoms that could be due to Nipah virus infection during the flight, tell the flight attendant before you land or the border services officer as you enter the country. They will notify a quarantine officer who can assess your symptoms.

Registration of Canadians Abroad
Sign up with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service to stay connected with the Government of Canada in case of an emergency abroad or an emergency at home.

Related links
Sickness or injury when travelling
If you get sick after travelling
Travel Advice and Advisories
Other Resources
Public Health Agency of Canada: Nipah Virus
World Health Organization: Nipah virus fact sheet
World Health Organization: Nipah virus infection

Date modified: 2017-04-05