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Nat Rev Microbiol. 2006 Jan;4(1):23-35.

Hendra and Nipah viruses: different and dangerous.

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  • 1Australian Animal Health Laboratory, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, 5 Portarlington Road, Geelong, Victoria 3220, Australia.


Hendra virus and Nipah virus are highly pathogenic paramyxoviruses that have recently emerged from flying foxes to cause serious disease outbreaks in humans and livestock in Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and Bangladesh. Their unique genetic constitution, high virulence and wide host range set them apart from other paramyxoviruses. These features led to their classification into the new genus Henipavirus within the family Paramyxoviridae and to their designation as Biosafety Level 4 pathogens. This review provides an overview of henipaviruses and the types of infection they cause, and describes how studies on the structure and function of henipavirus proteins expressed from cloned genes have provided insights into the unique biological properties of these emerging human pathogens.

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