New Langya virus identified in China

MANILA, Philippines – A new animal virus that can infect people has been identified in China.

Reports said that 35 cases have been recorded in Chinese provinces since the virus was first detected in late 2018. The findings were just recently published by a research team in China, Singapore and Australia.

shrew are carriers of Langya virus
Researchers believe some species of shrew are carriers of Langya virus.

Cases of the Langya henipavirus (LayV) were reported mostly among farmers in the eastern provinces of Shandong and Henan between December 2018 and May 2021, with no fatalities so far.

Researchers who identified the virus said LayV is “part of a genus of viruses called henipaviruses that are typically harbored in fruit bats,” according to a report by New Scientist, a UK-based weekly science and technology magazine.

The same genus “includes the Hendra virus, which was first identified in Australia in 1994 and is known to infect humans and horses,” the report said.

The Nipah virus, first detected in 1999 in Malaysia, is also part of this genus, it added.

Both viruses have a high fatality rate in people.

The report said people infected with LayV had symptoms including fever, fatigue, cough, muscle aches and pains, nausea, and headaches.

The LayV virus was identified using a throat swab sample from a person with fever and recent history of animal exposure.

Researchers believe shrews “may be the virus’ natural reservoir” as 27 percent of the more than 260 shrews “they surveyed had detectable levels of LayV,” the report said.

The virus was also found in 5 percent of dogs and 2 percent of goats.

The researchers came up with no evidence of person-to-person transmission.

According to Olivier Restif, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Cambridge, LayV is “unlikely to become a pandemic” as it does not “typically spread between people.”

— The Summit Express

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