New Langya Virus Infects 35 People In Eastern China, Likely Jumped From Shrews To Humans

35 Patients With Langya Virus Discovered In Eastern China

With Covid-19 and monkeypox cases both on the rise, global health authorities are currently on high alert.

Unfortunately, yet another disease is on the horizon and may require our attention.

Recently, authorities in China found 35 cases of a new virus in the region’s eastern part. Labelled the Langya virus, it is said to have spread from shrews.

As of yet, there is no evidence of human-to-human transmission of the disease. The patients suffering from the virus are also not in severe condition.

Langya virus discovered in China

According to Channel NewsAsia (CNA), 35 people in China have contracted the Langya henipavirus (LayV), transmitted from animals to humans.

Researchers in China, Singapore and New Zealand put together what they know about the virus in a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine on 4 Aug.

Source: Global Times

They said the discovery occurred while monitoring patients with fever and a history of animal exposure in eastern China.

Authorities identified the virus in a throat swab sample from one patient. They then diagnosed 35 patients with ‘acute LayV infection’ in the Shandong and Henan provinces of China, mainly comprising farmers and factory workers, said The Guardian.

The Global Times reports further investigation found that 26 out of the 35 patients experienced symptoms such as fever, cough, headache, nausea, vomiting and muscle aches.

The researchers also conducted a survey of small wild animals. They concluded that the virus predominantly exists in shrews, leading them to believe the animal is a ‘natural reservoir’ for the disease.

Source: Graham Shaw on Flickr

No reason to panic yet

So far, there’s no evidence of the virus being transmitted between humans, owing to the absence of clusters.

“There was no close contact or common exposure history among the patients, which suggests that the infection in the human population may be sporadic,” said the researchers.

However, according to The Global Times, previous reports suggested that the disease can spread between humans. The report added that the number of cases was insufficient to accurately determine the extent of human-to-human transmission.

The Guardian also stated that scientists first detected LayV in late 2018 in the provinces of Shandong and Henan. They managed to formally identify it last week.

The Global Times noted that the current LayV cases are neither fatal nor severe. Professor Wang Linfa from the Emerging Infectious Diseases Programme at Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore was a part of the study and told the paper there was no need to panic.

With that in mind, he did warn that there was still cause for alarm, as viruses often have unpredictable results when humans contract them.

For the time being, there is no vaccine for LayV. Instead, the only treatment for patients with the disease is supportive care to manage complications.

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Featured image adapted from Cool Green Science.

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