As the threat of COVID-19 still lingers two years into the pandemic and the monkeypox outbreak is far from contained, a new virus looms on the horizon. Researchers are monitoring the spread of the new Langya henipavirus (LayV) in China, where dozens of cases have already been recorded. The virus was first detected in 2018 in the northeastern provinces of Shandong and Henan, but was not officially identified until last week, after China experienced a sudden increase in cases, which already amount to a total of 35. According to a study by the Beijing Institute of Microbiology and Epidemiology published last week, the Langya virus cases were identified after health officials examined, as part of a health surveillance project, to several patients who presented fever and declared having been exposed to animals in eastern China. After identifying the Langya virus in one of the mu the patient’s throat scars, researchers discovered the presence of the virus in 35 people – mostly farmers – from Shandong and Henan provinces. What is Langya virus? Langya virus belongs to the same family as the deadly Nipah viruses and Hendra, the henipavirus family. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), this family of viruses is very dangerous, and it is estimated that Nipah has a mortality rate of between 40% and 75%, much higher than the mortality rate recorded by COVID-19. It is not clear how dangerous the Langya virus is for humanity, as all patients who have contracted the virus in China have so far experienced mild symptoms similar to those of flu, and there have been no reported fatalities related to it.According to a 2008 Chinese study, henipaviruses are naturally present in pteropid fruit bats (flying foxes) and microbats of vari as species, but other studies have found other henipaviruses in bats, rodents, and shrews. What are its symptoms? The most common symptom of Langya virus appears to be fever (experienced by all patients), but those infected with the virus also reported of fatigue (54% of patients), loss of appetite (50%), muscle pain (46%), cough (50%), nausea (38%), headache and vomiting (35%) after contracting the virus .Several also developed blood cell abnormalities and signs of liver and kidney damage, but none of the infected patients died. How is it transmitted? Langya virus is a zoonotic infection, which means that the virus is transmitted from animals to the humans. But since none of the patients from China had close contact with each other, experts believe transmission of the virus from animals to humans remains sporadic. Chinese researchers are still trying to figure out which animals were involved in transmitting the virus, but they suspect that shrews might be involved. Scientists at the Beijing Institute of Microbiology and Epidemiology found that among the 25 species of small wild animals studied, the virus genome was detected predominantly in shrews, with 27% of the 262 examined harbored the virus. This could mean that this small animal may be a natural reservoir of the Langya virus. to person.According to Chinese scientists, contact tracing of 9 patients with 15 family members in close contact did not re veiled no virus transmission. But the same researchers believe that the sample analyzed is too small to determine if person-to-person transmission is possible. How is it treated? There are currently no human vaccines against henipaviruses, although there is one against Hendra virus for horses.
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