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New virus has infected 35 people in China
Chinese scientists have warned of a new virus that can infect humans. The socalled Langya henipavirus (LayV) has infected 35 people in two neighboring provinces in eastern China, Henan and Shandong. The cases were reported in a study published in the scientific journal The New England Journal of Medicine.
Authorities said the patients had no close contact with each other or a history of shared exposure, suggesting human infections could be sporadic. Meanwhile, Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is developing a nucleic acid test method to identify and verify the spread of the virus.
Langya comes from a family of viruses known to kill up to threequarters of people in the event of severe infection. However, none of the new cases have been fatal and most are mild, with patients presenting with flulike symptoms.
The survey identified 35 patients with acute LayV infection, 26 of whom were only infected with LayV (no other pathogens present). Symptoms in these 26 patients were fever (100% of patients), fatigue (54%), cough (50%), anorexia/loss of appetite (50%), myalgia (46%), nausea (38%), pain headache (35th %) and vomiting (35%), accompanied by abnormalities of thrombocytopenia decrease in the number of platelets (35%), leukopenia decrease in the number of leukocytes (54%), impairment of liver function (35%) and kidneys (8 %).
It is the first time that Langya virus has been detected in humans. It is of animal origin and of the henipavirus type. There are two other viruses in the same genus: Hendra henipavirus (HeV) and Nipah henipavirus (NiV). A study conducted by researchers at the University of Cuiabá in 2021 classifies henipaviruses “as a biosafety level 4 pathogen due to their high ability to cause fatal diseases in humans, combined with their unique genetic constitution, lack of specific therapy and prophylaxis”.
Experts are worried about a possible Langya outbreak. The coronavirus, for example, is of animal origin and is what caused the current Covid19 pandemic which has infected 585 million people and claimed 6.4 million lives, according to a Johns Hopkins University survey.
So far, there have been no reports of humantohuman transmission of the virus. However, Chinese authorities have not come to any conclusion about this possibility and have therefore warned people to pay close attention to updates about the virus.
The serological test performed on domestic animals and published in the study showed that 2% of the goats and 5% of the dogs tested were positive for the viral infection.
The results of tests on 25 wildlife species suggest that the shrew (a small insectivorous mammal similar to a mouse) may be a natural reservoir of Langya henipavirus, as the virus was found in 27% of the species tested.
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