It has been found that the langya virus, which caused symptoms such as fever, fatigue, cough, loss of appetite, and muscle pain, spread from animals to humans.
Researchers have started tracking a newly identified virus in China, with dozens of cases recorded so far.
The new Langya henipavirus (LayV) was first detected in the northeastern provinces of Shandong and Henan in late 2018 but was only formally identified by scientists last week.
The virus was likely transmitted from animals to humans, the scientists said, and health authorities in Taiwan are currently monitoring the spread. The researchers tested wild animals and found LayV viral RNA in more than a quarter of the 262 shrews, “a finding that suggests the shrew may be a natural reservoir.” The virus was also detected in 2% of domestic goats and 5% of dogs.
Early investigations into the virus were described in correspondence published by scientists from China, Singapore, and Australia in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) last week.
Most of the 35 cases were in farmers
In humans, the virus has caused symptoms such as fever, fatigue, cough, loss of appetite, and muscle aches. All infected people had a fever, the scientists said. The virus was the only potential pathogen found in 26 of the 35 people, suggesting that “LayV was the cause of the febrile illness”.
There have been no LayV fatalities to date. Professor Wang Linfa of the Duke-NUS School of Medicine, co-author of the NEJM paper, told the state-run Global Times that the LayV cases had “not been fatal or very serious ” so far and that there was “no need to panic”. .”.
Scientists sequenced the genome of LayV and determined it to be a henipavirus
It was not yet clear whether the virus could be transmitted between people, the researchers said. Most of the 35 cases were in farmers, and the others infected included factory workers. “Contact tracing of nine patients with 15 close relatives revealed no close contact transmission of LayV, but our sample size was too small to determine the status of person-to-person transmission,” the researchers found. researchers.
Scientists sequenced the genome of LayV and determined it to be a henipavirus, a class of zoonotic RNA viruses that also includes Hendra virus and Nipah virus. Hendra virus, which affects horses and humans and originated in Australia, and Nipah virus, which has caused outbreaks in Southeast Asia, have been linked to high death rates.
LayV is most closely related to the Mojiang virus, which was discovered in southern China.
Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced on Sunday that it would implement genome sequencing and surveillance measures for the virus, Taiwan’s Central News Agency reported.
Chuang Jen-hsiang, deputy director general of the Taiwan CDC, told a news conference that the agency was investigating transmission routes and would work with the Council of Agriculture to investigate similar diseases in species. originating from Taiwan.
Infectious disease experts have long warned that the climate crisis and the destruction of nature will increase the risk of viruses being transmitted from animals to humans, in events known as “zoonotic by-products”.