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Low-tech approach stifles high-risk Nipah virus

Shielding palm-tree sap from fruit bats may limit spread of deadly disease

WASHINGTON — Simple bamboo skirts attached to date palms can protect the trees’ tasty sap from contamination by fruit bats. In so doing, the low-tech devices may prevent the spread of lethal Nipah virus, researchers in Bangladesh report at a meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

Nipah virus is a relatively new pathogen that was first identified in 1999. The virus can spread from person to person but is more likely to pass from an animal to a person. Fruit bats — known as flying foxes and common in Southeast Asia — can carry the virus without being sickened by it. 

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