Just when the world was still grappling with the plague of the COVID-19 pandemic that originated in China, a new virus identified as Langya henipavirus or LayV has once again hit the Asian giant.
The newly discovered virus, which belongs to the same family as the dangerous Nipah and Hendra viruses, is said to have infected over 30 people in China, however there is no proof that the illness can spread from person to person.
The virus was discovered thanks to an early detection mechanism from feverish persons in eastern China who had just been exposed to animals. The patients, who were primarily farmers, also complained of being tired, coughing, losing their appetite, and aches. A few of the patients also showed evidence of liver and kidney damage as well as abnormal blood cells. Everyone lived.
Africa gathered that among the 35 patients, 26 were infected only with LayV, according to a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine. There was no evidence they had been in close contact or had a common exposure history, suggesting human infection may be sporadic, the researchers said.
Tests detected the virus in 27% of shrews, a known vector for similar henipaviruses, suggesting the small, furry mole-like mammals may be a natural reservoir, they said.
Further investigation is needed to better understand the infection, according to the researchers from Beijing, Singapore and Australia. Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control said it is paying attention to the report, and plans to start screening for the virus.
The spread of germs from animals to humans, called zoonosis, is common, accounting for more than six of every 10 known infectious diseases in people, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most of the time they cause limited disease, dying out without having a major impact.