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Langya henipavirus: Rising cases of a new disease in China under surveillance By Euronews – Investing.com India

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Langya henipavirus: Rising cases of a new disease in China under surveillance As the threat of COVID-19 still lingers two years after the start of 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 reported. 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 spike in cases, now totaling 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, several patients who had fever and reported having been exposed to animals in eastern China. After identifying the Langya virus in one of the patient’s throat swabs, the 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 and Hendra viruses, 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 the COVID-19. How dangerous the Langya virus is to humanity is unclear, as all patients who have contracted the virus in China have so far experienced mild flu-like symptoms, and no related fatalities have been reported. According to a 2008 Chinese study, henipaviruses are naturally present in pteropid fruit bats (flying foxes) and microbats of various 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 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 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 find out which animals were involved in transmitting the virus, but they suspect 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 predominantly detected in shrews, with 27% of the 262 examined harboring the virus. This could mean that this small animal may be a natural reservoir for the Langya virus. Researchers in China suspect that shrews could be the natural reservoir of the new virus. Canva Although it is certain that the virus was transmitted from an animal to a human, researchers are not yet sure that transmission from person to person is possible. According to Chinese scientists, contact tracing of 9 patients with 15 family members in close contact did not reveal any transmission of the virus. But the same researchers believe that the sample tested 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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