New Langya virus identified in China, dozens of cases reported
A new virus has been identified in China that has already infected dozens of people, prompting researchers to begin tracking the virus. The novel Langya henipavirus (LayV) was first detected in China’s north eastern provinces of Shandong and Henan in late 2018. It was however, formally identified last week by scientists.
The scientists have said that the virus spreads from animals to humans. The researchers had tested wild animals and detected LayV viral RNA in more than a quarter of 262 shrews, “a finding that suggests that the shrew may be a natural reservoir”. The LayV virus was also detected in 2 per cent of domestic goats and 5 per cent of dogs.
The people infected with the Langya virus present with symptoms including fever, cough, fatigue, loss of appetite and muscle aches. The scientists said that all people infected with virus had fever. The “virus was the only potential pathogen found in 26 of the 35 people, suggesting that LayV was the cause of febrile illness”, scientists noted.
“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 status of human-to-human transmission,” the researchers found.
The discovery was highlighted by researchers from China, Singapore and Australia and published in the New England Journal of Medicine this month. A researcher, Wang Linfa from the Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore, has said that the “cases of LayV found so far have not been fatal or very serious, so there is no need to panic”.
The Taiwan Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has announced on Sunday that it would be implementing genome sequencing and surveillance measures to monitor the virus, as reported by Taiwan’s Central news agency. Infectious diseases experts have warned that the climate crisis will increase the chances of viruses being transmitted from animals to humans, event often referred to as “zoonotic spillovers”.