Malaysian pig crisis waning

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 1999:

KUALA LUMPUR––The previously
unidentified Hendra-like virus
ravaging the Malaysian pig industry for
the past six months was on April 10,
1999 formally named the Nipah virus,
after the village of Baru Sungai Nipah in
Negri Sembilan, the district where it was
first isolated by virologist Chan Kaw
Bing, MD.
The Hendra virus was named
after Hendra, Australia, where a similar
disease killed 15 horses and three humans
who worked with horses in 1994.

The outbreak was pronounced
at an end in late April, after killing at
least 111 of the 256 known human victims,
according to U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention specialists
who assisted Malaysian authorities in
trying to find the source.
Potential host animals who
might have transmitted Nipah to pigs and
humans included several species of fruit
bat (who were possibly forced into closer
proximity to pigs and people by the
Malaysian drought and forest fires of
1997-1998) and mynah birds. Investigators
think the host species may be relatively
resistant to the virus in question.
Producing symptoms similar to
Japanese encephalitis, a mosquito-carried
disease, Nipah may have killed people
as early as October 1997. Nipah was
consistently confused with JE until early
March 1999, when investigators finally
realized that unlike JE, it seemed to be
afflicting only people who had direct
physical contact with pigs. Complicating
diagnosis and treatment, up to 10% of
the human victims also had JE.
Beginning in mid-March, 545
Malaysian soldiers earned special bonuses
of a nature yet to be determined by
massacring 883,300 pigs in the three
states where Nipah occurred. Troops
reportedly also killed 27,000 pigs in other
areas whose owners wanted to dispatch
them because of falling pork demand.
Reports that the Nipah virus
had also been found in goats and two
dogs brought the shooting––ordered by
Dept. of Veterinary Services directorgeneral
Mohammed Nordin Mohammed
Nor––of at least 788 stray dogs in the
towns most affected, plus 1,200 goats
who had shared barns with pigs.

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