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Diagnostics for Nipah virus: a zoonotic pathogen endemic to Southeast Asia
  1. Laura T Mazzola,
  2. Cassandra Kelly-Cirino
  1. Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), Emerging Threats Programme, Geneva, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Cassandra Kelly-Cirino; cassandra.kelly{at}


Nipah virus (NiV) is an emerging pathogen that, unlike other priority pathogens identified by WHO, is endemic to Southeast Asia. It is most commonly transmitted through exposure to saliva or excrement from the Pteropus fruit bat, or direct contact with intermediate animal hosts, such as pigs. NiV infection causes severe febrile encephalitic disease and/or respiratory disease; treatment options are limited to supportive care. A number of in-house diagnostic assays for NiV using serological and nucleic acid amplification techniques have been developed for NiV and are used in laboratory settings, including some early multiplex panels for differentiation of NiV infection from other febrile diseases. However, given the often rural and remote nature of NiV outbreak settings, there remains a need for rapid diagnostic tests that can be implemented at the point of care. Additionally, more reliable assays for surveillance of communities and livestock will be vital to achieving a better understanding of the ecology of the fruit bat host and transmission risk to other intermediate hosts, enabling implementation of a ‘One Health’ approach to outbreak prevention and the management of this zoonotic disease. An improved understanding of NiV viral diversity and infection kinetics or dynamics will be central to the development of new diagnostics, and access to clinical specimens must be improved to enable effective validation and external quality assessments. Target product profiles for NiV diagnostics should be refined to take into account these outstanding needs.

  • nipah virus
  • NiV
  • henipavirus
  • in vitro diagnostics
  • outbreaks

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  • Handling editor Seye Abimbola

  • Contributors LTM contributed to drafting the manuscript and provided background research for the manuscript. CK-C contributed insight into diagnostic needs for outbreak pathogens. All authors reviewed, edited and approved the final version of the manuscript.

  • Funding FIND was funded for this work by UK aid from the UK Government.

  • Disclaimer The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the institutions or organisations with which they are affiliated.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement No additional data are available.

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