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Nipah virus is a priority pathogen that is receiving increasing attention among scientists and in work on epidemic preparedness. Despite this trend, there has been almost no bioethical work examining ethical considerations surrounding the epidemiology, prevention, and treatment of Nipah virus or research that has already begun into animal and human vaccines. In this paper, we advance the case for further work on Nipah virus disease in public health ethics due to the distinct issues it raises concerning communication about the modes of transmission, the burdens of public health surveillance, the recent use of stringent public health measures during epidemics, and social or religious norms intersecting with preventive measures. We also advance the case for further work on Nipah virus disease in research ethics, given ethical issues surrounding potential vaccine trials for a high-fatality disease with sporadic spillover events, the different local contexts where trials may occur, and the potential use of unproven therapeutics during outbreaks. Further bioethics work may help to ensure that research and public health interventions for Nipah virus disease are ethically acceptable and more likely to be effective.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Medical Ethics


BMJ Publishing Group

Publication Date