Experimental Infection of Syrian Hamsters with Aerosolized Nipah Virus

Olivier Escaffre, Terence Hill, Tetsuro Ikegami, Terry L. Juelich, Jennifer K. Smith, Lihong Zhang, David E. Perez, Colm Atkins, Arnold Park, William S. Lawrence, Satheesh K. Sivasubramani, Jennifer E. Peel, Johnny Peterson, Benhur Lee, Alexander N. Freiberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background. Nipah virus (NiV) is a paramyxovirus (genus Henipavirus) that can cause severe respiratory illness and encephalitis in humans. Transmission occurs through consumption of NiV-contaminated foods, and contact with NiV-infected animals or human body fluids. However, it is unclear whether aerosols derived from aforesaid sources or others also contribute to transmission, and current knowledge on NiV-induced pathogenicity after small-particle aerosol exposure is still limited. Methods. Infectivity, pathogenicity, and real-time dissemination of aerosolized NiV in Syrian hamsters was evaluated using NiV-Malaysia (NiV-M) and/or its recombinant expressing firefly luciferase (rNiV-FlucNP). Results. Both viruses had an equivalent pathogenicity in hamsters, which developed respiratory and neurological symptoms of disease, similar to using intranasal route, with no direct correlations to the dose. We showed that virus replication was predominantly initiated in the lower respiratory tract and, although delayed, also intensely in the oronasal cavity and possibly the brain, with gradual increase of signal in these regions until at least day 5-6 postinfection. Conclusion. Hamsters infected with small-particle aerosolized NiV undergo similar clinical manifestations of the disease as previously described using liquid inoculum, and exhibit histopathological lesions consistent with NiV patient reports. NiV droplets could therefore play a role in transmission by close contact.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1602-1610
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Infectious Diseases
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 5 2018


  • Nipah virus
  • aerosol
  • animal model
  • hamster
  • henipavirus
  • in vivo imaging.
  • pathogenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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