Following the Nipah virus (NV) outbreak in March 1999 in Singapore, a serological survey was undertaken to screen individuals potentially exposed to NV. Blood samples were tested for NV IgM, IgG and neutralizing antibodies. Twenty-two (1·5%) of 1469 people tested had antibodies suggesting NV infection. Although 12 of the 22 infected people (54·6%) were symptomatic, the remaining 10 (45·4%) were clinically well and had no past history of compatible pulmonary or neurological disease. Clinical and serological findings suggested three people had been infected with NV before the outbreak was recognized. All those who were infected were male abattoir workers. None of the people who had contact with horses, and no healthcare workers exposed to infected patients and their specimens had detectable antibodies. This study provides evidence that NV causes asymptomatic infection. All of the antibody positive individuals had direct contact with pigs and there was no evidence of human to human transmission.
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