New Langya Virus In China Has Infected Dozens. Here's What We Know So Far

The virus was likely spread from animals to humans, but researchers have yet to confirm if it can be transmitted between humans.

Cover image via drmicrobe & creativenature

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A newly-identified virus from China called the Langya henipavirus (LayV) is being tracked by scientists after 35 people were found to have been infected with the disease

The virus was first noticed in late 2018 in Shandong and Henan, the northeastern provinces of China, but was only officially identified by scientists last week, reported The Guardian.

The pathogen can cause symptoms such as fatigue, cough, loss of appetite, and muscle aches.

According to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), all of the infected people had a fever.

The NEJM study, which looked at the 35 patients in Shandong and Henan provinces, found that 26 of them were infected with only the LayV and no other pathogens. These people showed the clinical symptoms associated with the virus.

The virus was likely spread from animals to people, but researchers have yet to confirm if it can be transmitted between humans

After testing out wild animals, scientists discovered that shrews are the reservoir of infection (natural reservoir) for the virus.

Apart from shrews, a small percentage of domestic goats and dogs was also found to have contained the Langya virus.

An early screening test in feverish people with a recent history of animal exposure in China resulted in the detection of the virus, according to Bloomberg.

The majority of the 35 cases involved farmers, while factory workers were also infected.

However, researchers said that it is still uncertain whether the virus can spread between humans.

A shrew, the potential natural reservoir for the Langya virus.

Image via creativenature

The LayV cases are not fatal, according to professor Wang Linfa, one of the researchers who study the virus at Duke-NUS Medical School

Since there has been no death as yet, the professor claimed that the cases are not considered very serious.

Therefore, he suggested that there is no need for the public to panic.

Professor Wang Linfa of the Duke-NUS Medical School, a co-author of the NEJM paper.

Image via National Research Foundation Singapore

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