Emergencies preparedness, response

1999 - Hendra-like virus in Malaysia and Singapore

07 April 1999

Disease Outbreak Reported

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have confirmed that of the 15 blood samples from abattoir workers received from Singapore for testing, 11 (including 1 death) tested positive for Hendra-like virus. No additional cases have been reported in Singapore during the past two weeks and the outbreak there has now ended.

The outbreak of encephalitis is still ongoing in Malaysia. For up-to-date information on the number of cases and deaths, please see the web site of the Department of Public Health, Ministry of Health, Malaysia at: http://dph.gov.my/press/press2/cases.htm

The Hendra-like virus is a new virus. It is similar to the Hendra virus which was responsible for the deaths of two humans and some race horses in Australia in 1994. However, genetic analysis of the new virus shows significant differences. Experts at CDC have noted that transmission of the virus has been confined to persons who have had direct contact with infected pigs. Currently, there is no evidence that the virus can be transmitted from human to human. Travellers to Malaysia should be aware of this outbreak of febrile encephalitis, which thus far has involved only those closely associated with pig farms.  No travel restrictions are indicated at this time.

A  report of the outbreak can be found in the article, " Outbreak of Hendra-Like Virus - Malaysia and Singapore, 1998-1999" in MMWR, April 9, 1999 48(13); 265-269 at: http://www.cdc.gov/epo/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00056866.htm