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Langya virus: How serious is the new pathogen discovered in China?




Between December 2018 and May 2021, 35 people are known to have been infected with Langya henipavirus in Shandong and Henan provinces of China.


August 10, 2022

Shrews are thought to be the natural host of a new pathogen called Langyavirus

Shrews are thought to be the natural host of a newly discovered pathogen called Langya henipavirus

Martin Willis/Minden Pictures/Alamy

Dozens of people in eastern China are known to have been infected with a new virus named Langya henipavirus (LayV), which appears to have been transmitted from animals to humans.

What is Langya Henipavirus?

LayV is part of the genus virus It is called henipavirus, which is usually found in fruit bats. In the genus Hendra virusFirst identified in Australia in 1994, it is known to infect humans and horses.of Nipah virusFirst identified in Malaysia in 1999, it is also part of this genus. Both infections have a high fatality rate in humans.

LayV appears to be most closely related to the Mojiang henipavirus, according to a team of Chinese and Australian researchers. In 2012, Mojang henipa virus was associated with severe pneumonia episodes and ultimately death. Three men working in an abandoned copper mine in China.

The latest development monitored a group of people with fever and recent history of animal exposure in eastern China. A new henipavirus – LayV – was identified in a single throat swab sample.

Subsequent analysis revealed that between December 2018 and May 2021, there were 35 cases of LayV in eastern China’s Shandong and Henan provinces, mostly in farmers.

What are the symptoms of rangyavirus?

Of the 35, the researchers only reported symptoms experienced by those who did not show signs of another infection in order to better determine that LayV was the cause of their symptoms.

Of these 26, all experienced fever. The second most common symptom was fatigue (experienced by 54% of people), followed by coughing (50%) and muscle pain (46%).

In addition, 38% experienced nausea, 35% experienced headache, and a further 35% experienced vomiting.

More than half (54%) had leukopenia, defined as an insufficient number of pathogen-fighting white blood cells. More than a third (35%) had thrombocytopenia, a low number of blood-clotting cells called platelets.

Impaired hepatic or renal function affected 35% and 8%, respectively.

Where did the rangyavirus come from?

Researchers tested 25 species of small wild animals for the virus. Detectable levels of LayV were detected in more than a quarter (27%) of his 262 shrews they investigated, suggesting they may be natural hosts for the virus.

Looking at livestock, the team detected the virus in 4 of 79 dogs (5%) and 3 of 168 goats (2%).

The researchers found no evidence of close contact among those infected with the virus. Nine of them were found to be free of LayV infection through contact tracing with family members of 15 close contacts. became clear. This suggests that the virus is transmitted from animals to humans, not from humans to humans.

Nevertheless, the researchers say the sample size is too small to rule out human-to-human transmission.

how should we worry?

No deaths have been reported in confirmed cases to date. Researchers say some of those infected had pneumonia, but did not provide details on how many or how severe.

Olivier Restif A Cambridge University professor said LayV is unlikely to become a pandemic because henipaviruses do not normally spread between people.

“The only henipavirus that has shown signs of human-to-human transmission is the Nipah virus, which requires very close contact,” he says. .”

Francois Ballou A professor at University College London says the fact that there have been very few cases over the years suggests the virus is not spreading rapidly. It is unlikely to be contagious and could easily cause an epidemic or pandemic,” he says.

Nevertheless, he says the most likely causes of future pandemics are viruses that jump from animals to humans. he says. “I think we need to be better prepared for events like COVID-19 Happening. I think this is very likely to happen in the next few decades. ”

Journal reference: New England Journal of Medicine, DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc2202705

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