Zoonotic Langya found in China: What is this new virus infecting people?

A new virus that has possibly jumped from animals to humans has infected 35 people in China. Some of the patients have developed symptoms including fever, fatigue, cough, loss of appetite, muscle pain, nausea, headache and vomiting

FP Explainers August 10, 2022 13:30:52 IST
Zoonotic Langya found in China: What is this new virus infecting people?

Representational image. ANI

Another zoonotic virus has started to cause concerns in China as 35 people have been infected so far. The Langya henipavirus has been found in China’s Shandong and Henan provinces and can be transmitted from animals to humans.

Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) noted that Taipei would establish a nucleic acid testing method to identify the virus and monitor its spread.

What is the langya virus?

A study titled “A Zoonotic Henipavirus in Febrile Patients in China” that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Thursday said that a new henipavirus associated with a fever-causing human illness was identified in China.

Shanghai-based media thepaper.cn reported that Henipavirus is one of the important emerging causes of zoonosis in the Asia-Pacific region, noting that both Hendra virus (HeV) and Nipah virus (NiV) from this genus are known to infect humans with fruit bats as the natural host of both viruses.

The test results of 25 wild animal species suggest that the shrew (a small insectivorous mammal resembling a mouse) might be a natural reservoir of the Langya henipavirus, as the virus was found in 27 percent of the shrew subjects, the CDC Deputy DG said.

Providing details of the serological survey conducted on domestic animals, he said that 2 percent of the tested goats and 5 percent of the tested dogs were positive.

Taiwan’s CDC Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang on Sunday said that according to a study, human-to-human transmission of the virus has not been reported however at the same time he said that CDC has yet to determine whether the virus can be transmitted among humans and cautioned people to pay close attention to further updates about the virus.

What are the symptoms of langya virus?

The investigation identified 35 patients with acute infection of the Langya henipavirus in China’s Shandong and Henan provinces, and that 26 of them were infected with the Langya virus only, with no other pathogens.

Chuang said the 35 patients in China did not have close contact with each other or a common exposure history, and contact tracing showed no viral transmission among close contacts and family, suggesting that human infections might be sporadic.

The 26 patients developed symptoms including fever, fatigue, a cough, loss of appetite, muscle pain, nausea, headache and vomiting. They also showed a decrease in white blood cells. low platelet count, liver failure and kidney failure.

According to Global Times, scholars who participated in the study pointed out that this newly discovered Henipavirus, which may have come from animals, is associated with some febrile cases, and the infected people have symptoms including fever, fatigue, cough, anorexia, myalgia, and nausea.

How serious is it?

Global Times reported that Henipavirus can cause severe disease in animals and humans and are classified as biosafety Level 4 viruses with case fatality rates between 40-75 percent, according to the data from World Health Organization (WHO), highlighting that this is much higher than the fatality rate of the coronavirus.

So far there have not been any fatal or serious cases, as well as no cases of human to human transmission of langya virus. However, there is currently no vaccine or treatment for Henipavirus and the only treatment is supportive care to manage complications.


With inputs from agencies

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