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Henipavirus Langya: New Virus Detected in China Demonstrates Importance of Global Surveillance – NIUS – NIUS


NIUS Madrid Newsroom 08/14/2022 03:00 a.m. The new pathogen has been sequenced in the east of the Asian giant. with the disease was a 53-year-old woman from LangyaThe alarms went off as soon as they heard the news and it was not for less: a new virus detected in China called Langya henipavirus had infected 35 people. Is this the pathogen to blame for the next pandemic? In principle, no, because although the information available is “limited”, the risk of the virus spreading from person to person and spreading to other countries is “very low”, say the European health authorities. Also, so far, it has not caused any deaths. Researchers from China and Singapore alerted international organizations in the first week of August when they verified the existence of a new strain of a virus from animals with pandemic potential. A virus that had affected 35 people, but in more than two years, from April 2018 to August 2021, in the Chinese provinces of Shandong and Henan, in the east of the country. Cases that are not related to each other, so the main hypothesis is that the contagion occurred when passing from the animal to the human being. In fact, the virus was identified thanks to the sentinel surveillance system for cases of fever in people with recent contact with animals. Analyzing the samples, the laboratory detected this new pathogen called Langya henipavirus (LayV), closely related to two other henipaviruses: Hendra virus and Nipah virus. What are henipaviruses? As explained in the journal Nature, henipaviruses belong to the Paramyxoviridae family, a type of virus that includes measles, mumps, and many other respiratory viruses that infect people. Other henipaviruses have been discovered in bats, rats, and shrews, from Australia to South Korea and China, but only Hendra, Nipah, and now LayV are known to infect people. Where does LayV come from? Researchers think LayV is transmitted by shrews. Rodents that could have infected people directly or through an intermediary animal. The team sequenced the genome of the new henipavirus from a throat swab of the first identified patient with the disease, a 53-year-old woman. In fact, the virus is so named because the woman was from the city of Langya in Shandong. Throughout the study, the researchers found 35 people infected with LayV, mostly farmers who, as they acknowledged in the questionnaire, had been in contact with an animal during the month prior to the appearance of symptoms. How is it spread? {{ #cards }} {{}} {{}} {{/}} {{}} {{ /cards }} The hypothesis with more weight, at the moment, is that of sporadic zoonosis: a disease or infection that is transmitted naturally from vertebrate animals to humans. This would explain why most of the Langya henipavirus has been detected in rural people dedicated to agriculture and in contact with animals. According to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), “there are no indications of transmission from person person”, although the possibility cannot be ruled out either. “More research will be required to understand the modes of transmission of LayV,” they point out from the European center. What are your main symptoms? Hendra and Nipah do cause respiratory infections that can be fatal, although in the case of the new henipavirus, Langya, no deaths have been documented. Its main symptoms are fever, fatigue, cough, anorexia, myalgia, nausea, headache and vomiting. In some cases it also caused severe pneumonia. Can the henipavirus langya cause a pandemic like the coronavirus? Scientists who analyze this new virus assure that there is still much to investigate. For example, it is not clear how LayV is transmitted between shrews and how it spreads from shrews to people. In any case, the risk of the infection spreading throughout the world is “very low”, they say at the ECDC. “There is no particular need to worry about this, but continued vigilance is essential,” says Edward Holmes, an evolutionary virologist at the University of Sydney, Australia. Zoonosis, the spread of viruses that jump from animals to humans, happens all the time. The risk is continuous, which is why it is important to have a global surveillance system to detect risk diseases and prevent new pandemics such as the one caused by SARS-CoV-2, says Holmes.



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