Scientists reported in the New England Journal of Medicine that 35 people in China were infected with Langya virus, a relative of Hendra and Nipah viruses.
In the article, they add that the discovery came about through sentinel surveillance of fever patients and animal exposure in eastern China.
“A phylogenetically distinct henipavirus, termed Langya henipavirus (LayV), was identified in a patient’s throat swab specimen by metagenomic analysis followed by virus isolation. […] Subsequent investigations identified 35 patients with acute LayV infection in Shandong and Henan provinces of China, 26 of whom were infected only with LayV (no other pathogens were present),” they describe.
All 26 patients who had only one virus had a fever. Other symptoms included: fatigue (54%), cough (50%), loss of appetite (50%), muscle pain (46%), nausea (38%), headache (35%) and vomiting (35%). accompanied by abnormalities of low platelet count (35%), low white blood cell count (54%) and impaired liver (35%) and kidney function (8%).
The virus was first identified in 2018 in the same two Chinese provinces. There are currently no reports of deaths.
The authors also tried to look for possible animals that could have transmitted the virus to humans, since it is not a pathogen that circulates between humans.
They found viral genetic material in 3 of 168 (2%) of the goats examined and in 4 of 79 (5%) dogs.
Extending the analysis to include small wild animals, Langya virus genetic material was found in 71 of 262 (27%) shrews, “a finding suggesting that the shrew may be a natural reservoir of this pathogen,” the authors say.
The research group also reports that no humantohuman transmission has been reported for Nipah virus from the same family, and downplays that possibility for Langya.
“There was no close contact or shared history of exposure among the patients, suggesting that the infection may be sporadic in the human population. Screening of nine patients with 15 close contact family members revealed no close contact transmission of LayV, but our sample size was too small to determine humantohuman transmission status for LayV.”
In Taiwan, Deputy DirectorGeneral of the Center for Disease Control Chuang Jenhsiang told the Taipei Times that although there is no evidence of humantohuman transmission, the territory will work on developing a test for genetic material to test to recognize this the virus.