A controlled trial to reduce the risk of human Nipah virus exposure in Bangladesh
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Human Nipah virus (NiV) infection, often fatal in Bangladesh, is primarily transmitted by drinking raw date palm sap contaminated by Pteropus bats. We assessed the impact of a behavior change communication intervention on reducing consumption of potentially NiV-contaminated raw sap. During the 2012-2014 sap harvesting seasons, we implemented interventions in two areas and compared results with a control area. In one area, we disseminated a "do not drink raw sap" message and, in the other area, encouraged only drinking sap if it had been protected from bat contamination by a barrier ("only safe sap"). Post-intervention, 40% more respondents in both intervention areas reported knowing about a disease contracted through raw sap consumption compared with control. Reported raw sap consumption decreased in all areas. The reductions in the intervention areas were not significantly greater compared to the control. Respondents directly exposed to the "only safe sap" message were more likely to report consuming raw sap from a protected source than those with no exposure (25 vs. 15%, OR 2.0, 95% CI 1.5-2.6, P < 0.001). While the intervention increased knowledge in both intervention areas, the "only safe sap" intervention reduced exposure to potentially NiV-contaminated sap and should be considered for future dissemination.