This image depicts Bangladeshi Field Epidemiology Training Program (BFETP) resident, Masum Billah, as he was conducting a community education discussion, in order to raise awareness of the dangers of drinking raw date palm sap in Kagdi, Shaltha, Bangladesh, on February 21, 2014. The Nipah virus is a highly fatal zoonotic illness that is transmitted by bats, and is commonly associated with drinking raw juice from date palm sap, which is a delicacy in Bangladesh. Nipah causes annual viral outbreaks in Bangladesh.
The natural reservoir for Nipah virus is still under investigation, but preliminary data suggest that bats of the genus Pteropus, are the reservoirs for Nipah virus, as is the case in Malaysia.
Illness with Nipah virus begins with 3-14 days of fever and headache. This is followed by drowsiness and disorientation, characterized by mental confusion. These signs and symptoms can progress to coma within 24-48 hours. Some patients have had a respiratory illness during the early part of their infections.
The FETP trains workers on the ground to help countries build sustainable capacity for detecting and responding to health threats. The program develops in-country expertise so that disease outbreaks can be detected locally and prevented from spreading.
For more on the FETP program, or the Nipah virus, see the links below.