Nipah virus is a recently-recognised, zoonotic paramyxovirus that causes severe disease and high fatality rates in people. Outbreaks have occurred in Malaysia, Singapore, India and Bangladesh, and a putative Nipah virus was also recently associated with human disease in the Philippines. Worryingly, human-to-human transmission is common in Bangladesh, where outbreaks occur with near-annual frequency. Onward human transmission of Nipah virus in Bangladesh is associated with close contact with clinically-unwell patients or their infectious secretions. While Nipah virus isolates associated with outbreaks of human infection have not resulted in sustained transmission to date, specific exposures carry a high risk of person-to-person transmission, an observation which is supported by recent findings in animal models. Novel paramyxoviruses continue to emerge from wildlife hosts, and represent an ongoing threat to human health globally.