new virus has infected 35 people in China

New virus has infected 35 people in China
tawatchai07 / Freepik

New virus has infected 35 people in China

Chinese scientists have warned about a new virus capable of infecting humans. Called Langya henipavirus (LayV), it has infected 35 people in two provinces located in eastern China, Henan and Shandong, but which border each other. 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 common exposure, suggesting that human infections may be sporadic. Meanwhile, Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is currently establishing a nucleic acid testing method to identify and verify the spread of the virus.

Langya comes from a family of viruses known to kill up to three-quarters of humans in case of severe infection. However, none of the new cases so far have resulted in death and most are mild, with patients showing flu-like symptoms.

The survey identified 35 patients with acute LayV infection, among whom 26 were infected with LayV alone (no other pathogens were present). As symptoms, these 26 patients had fever (100% of patients), fatigue (54%), cough (50%), anorexia/loss of appetite (50%), myalgia (46%), nausea (38%), pain headache (35%) and vomiting (35%), accompanied by abnormalities of thrombocytopenia — a drop in the number of platelets — (35%), leukopenia — a reduction in the number of leukocytes — (54%), impairment of liver function (35% ) and renal (8%).

It is the first time that the Langya virus has been detected in humans. It is of animal origin and of the Henipavirus type. There are two other viruses of the same genus: Hendra henipavirus (HeV) and Nipah henipavirus (NiV). A study carried out by researchers at the University of Cuiabá in 2021 classifies henipaviruses “as biosafety level 4 pathogens, due to their high capacity to cause lethal disease in humans associated with their unique genetic constitution, lack of specific therapy and prophylaxis”.

Experts are concerned about a possible outbreak of Langya. The coronavirus, for example, is of animal origin and caused the current Covid-19 pandemic – which has infected 585 million people and claimed the lives of 6.4 million, according to a survey by Johns Hopkins University.

There have not yet been reports of human-to-human transmission of the virus. However, Chinese authorities have not come to a conclusion on this possibility and therefore have warned people to pay close attention to updates about the virus.

The serological survey carried out on domestic animals and published in the study showed that 2% of the goats and 5% of the dogs tested were positive for the virus infection.

The results of tests on 25 species of wild animals suggest that the shrew (a small insectivorous mammal similar to a mouse) may be a natural reservoir of the Langya henipavirus, as the virus was found in 27% of the animals of this species tested.

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