Scientists allay fears about the new Langya virus in China, which infects just EIGHT people a year

Scientists allay fears about the new Langya virus in China, which infects just EIGHT people a year

Top scientists have given reassurances that the public Langya virus is unrelated to Covid, after reports of the new pathogen in China sparked fears of a repeat of the 2020 pandemic.

Langya henipavirus – or LayV – was detected in 35 people in the country’s eastern provinces of Henan and Shandong between December 2018 and mid-2021.

This means the virus has infected just a handful of people each year since it was first identified in a 53-year-old farmer.

It was revealed for the first time in research published in the New England Journal of Medicine last week, sparking fears of another mysterious flu-like virus.

But Professor Francis Balloux, an infectious disease expert at University College London, said the current data suggested the virus was “not spreading rapidly in humans”.

He added there is little evidence that LayV can spread easily between people, meaning it has low pandemic potential.

“At this stage, LayV does not look like a repeat of Covid-19 at all, but it is another reminder of the looming threat posed by the many pathogens circulating in wild and domestic animal populations that have the potential to infect humans.” , he tweeted.

This chart shows the time and location of people who contracted fevers while only having LayV. The first case was discovered in December 2018, with dozens more found in 2019 and 2021

UK virus expert Professor Francis Balloux, from University College London, said the virus does not look like a repeat of Covid, which is thought to have originated in animals as well

UK virus expert Professor Francis Balloux, from University College London, said the virus does not look like a repeat of Covid, which is thought to have originated in animals as well

1660131244 77 Scientists allay fears about the new Langya virus in China

Chinese experts studying the virus believe human cases are “sporadic”. They’re still trying to figure out if it can spread from person to person.

Shrews, a small mouse-sized mole-like mammal, are currently thought to be the main vectors of the virus.

Scientists tracking Langya tested a variety of small wild animals for the virus and found that shrews had the highest positive rate, 71 of the 262 tested, about a quarter.

The virus has also been detected in a small percentage of domestic dogs (5 percent) and goats (2 percent).

Concerns about LayV have been heightened because it belongs to a group of pathogens called henipaviruses. Some members of this family of viruses kill up to 75 percent of those they infect.

So far, however, the newly identified pathogen has only caused mild, flu-like symptoms in humans, such as fever, exhaustion, coughing, loss of appetite and muscle pain.

LayV drew international attention this week after a report on its discovery by Chinese, Singaporean and Australian experts in the New England Journal of Medicine, published Aug. 4.

The virus has never been detected in humans and experts believe it was transmitted by shrews (stock image)

The virus has never been detected in humans and experts believe it was transmitted by shrews (stock image)

Langya virus detected in 35 people in China (pictured an illustration of Nipah virus, a related virus)

Langya virus detected in 35 people in China (pictured an illustration of Nipah virus, a related virus)

What is Langya virus?

What is Langya virus?

Langya virus is a henipavirus that was first detected in humans in China.

It belongs to the same family as Nipah virus, a deadly pathogen normally found in bats.

Experts believe that langya was transmitted to humans by shrews, a small, mole-like mammal.

Where has it been sighted?

The virus infected 35 people in Henan and Shandong provinces in the east of the country between December 2018 and mid-2021.

What are the symptoms?

The most commonly experienced symptom was fever, with all those infected developing a fever.

This was followed by fatigue (54 percent), coughing (50 percent), loss of appetite (50 percent), muscle pain (46 percent) and nausea (38 percent).

Should I be concerned?

None of the Langya cases have resulted in any deaths so far, although patients have been left with flu-like symptoms.

So far, there has been no evidence of human-to-human transmission, although Taiwanese authorities have launched new tests to monitor transmission.

The first cases were discovered before January 2019 and have only occurred sporadically since then.

Of the 35 patients suspected of having an infection, 26 (74 percent) tested positive solely for the virus.

The rest were also infected with an additional virus that may have contributed to their symptoms.

The majority of the confirmed patients were farm workers, with the remainder being factory workers and one student.

They wrote in the study: “There was no close contact or shared history of exposure among the patients, suggesting that the infection may be sporadic in the human population.

“Contact tracing of nine patients with 15 close contact family members revealed no close contact LayV transmission.

“But our sample size was too small to determine the human-to-human transmission status for LayV.”

The most common symptom suffered by Langya patients was fever, with all those infected developing a fever.

This was followed by fatigue (54 percent), coughing (50 percent), loss of appetite (50 percent), muscle pain (46 percent), nausea (38 percent) and vomiting (35 percent).

Around 35 percent suffered from liver problems, while 8 percent saw impaired kidney function.

International reaction to LayV has been muted so far, but on Sunday China’s neighbor Taiwan announced it would start genome sequencing and step up surveillance efforts for the virus, according to its national news agency.

Chuang Jen-hsiang, deputy director general of the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control, said they are investigating possible transmission routes.

He added that they would also work with the country’s Agriculture Council to screen native Taiwanese animals for similar diseases.

Genetically, LayV is most closely related to Mojiang virus, another hepinavirus discovered in southern China that has been linked to the deaths of three miners in 2012 and found in animals living in the caves where they worked.

Other hepinaviruses include Nipah virus, a deadly pathogen normally found in bats.

Like Covid, Nipah can spread through respiratory droplets. But it’s far more deadly, killing up to three-quarters of the people it infects.

It has been listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the viruses most likely to cause the next pandemic.

The brain-swelling virus was first detected in Malaysia and Singapore in 1999, when 300 cases resulted in 100 deaths.

There is currently no Nipah vaccine approved for humans – but at least eight are currently being tested on animals, including one by Oxford University.