The Langya virus, which can cause fever, fatigue and nausea, was found in 35 people in eastern China, researchers say.
Scientists in Asia have identified a new virus that can cause severe fever and is capable of being transmitted to humans from animals in eastern China.
Langya henipavirus (LayV) was found in 35 people in China’s Shandong and Henan provinces who were tested between 2018 and 2021, according to a Letters was published in the New England Journal of Medicine earlier this month.
Researchers say it can cause acute fever, fatigue, cough and loss of appetite. They said some patients also experienced body aches, nausea, vomiting and headaches.
Some also have impaired liver function.
The researchers, based in China, Australia and Singapore, said LayV was first identified in a 53-year-old woman in December 2018 during the surveillance of patients with acute and recent fevers. have a history of contact with animals.
The researchers then conducted surveys of wild and domestic animals for viral hosts, and discovered that Langya RNA was mainly found in shrews, small mammals with snout long and small eyes.
About 27% of the shrews tested positive for the virus, suggesting they may be “a natural reservoir for LayV,” they wrote.
They said about 5% of dogs and 2% of goats also tested positive.
The discovery of LayV occurred less than three years after the COVID-19 pandemic, which scientists believe was also caused by the spread of the virus from animals to humans.
But unlike SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes COVID-19, the researchers behind the new study say they have found no evidence of human-to-human transmission of LayV to date.
“There was no close contact or shared history of exposure between patients, which suggests that human transmission may be sporadic,” they wrote.
“Contact tracing of 9 patients with 15 close-contact family members showed no LayV transmission by close contact, but our sample size was too small to determine person-to-person transmission. LayV donor,” they added.
Wang Linfa, a professor at Singapore’s Duke-NUS Medical School who was involved in the study, told China’s Global Times that LayV infections are not fatal or very serious.
No need to panic, the tabloid quoted him as saying.
LayV is most closely related genetically to the Mojiang henipavirus that infected six miners in southern China in 2012. The last three died, the researchers said.
LayV also belongs to the same family as Nipah and Hendra viruses.
Nipah virus was first detected during an outbreak among pig farmers in Malaysia in 1999 and has also been identified in Bangladesh and India, according to the World Health Organization.
Nipah infection can be fatal, with 40 to 75% of those infected dying in previous outbreaks. It can be transmitted to humans from animals, such as bats and pigs, and from person to person.
The Hendra virus was first identified in Australia in 1999 and has infected seven people and more than 70 horses. The WHO said all incidents were limited to Australia’s northeast coast.
There is currently no treatment or vaccine for henipavirus infections.