China discovers new potentially fatal virus

·2-min read

A new virus derived from animals has been detected in China and has so far infected 35 people across the Shandong and Henan provinces, local media reported.

The Langya Henipavirus, known as "Langya" or "LayV", is "known to infect humans and cause fatal disease," an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) revealed.

None of the 35 patients who are infected with the new virus have died, and none have been serious, according to China's state-run Global Times.

The virus, believed to have been passed to humans by shrews — a small mammal resembling a mole — is part of the Henipavirus family, which has two previously identified viruses, the Hendra and Nipah.

People in China wearing masks and hazmat suit
A new virus known as Langya has been detected in China derived from animals. Source: Getty

Langya also been present in goats and dogs, the NEJM report showed.

The virus was found in throat swab samples from infected patients who had been in contact with animals before their diagnosis.

Researchers are still working to better understand the origins of the virus and how it spreads, but the study says human-to-human transmission has not yet been reported.

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

Patients experiencing flu-like symptoms

Typical symptoms include a fever, fatigue, muscle pain, loss of appetite, a cough, nausea, vomiting and headaches, and of the 35 infected people, 26 developed these flu-like symptoms.

Henipavirus is reportedly one of the important emerging causes of zoonosis in the Asia-Pacific region.

Hendra virus (HeV) and Nipah virus (NiV) are known to infect humans with fruit bats as the natural host of both viruses, Global Times reported, quoting Shanghai-based media

The case fatality rate for Nipah virus is estimated at 40 to 75 per cent, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

There is currently no vaccine available.

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