Langya henipavirus: what we know about the new virus resulting from a possible zoonosis in China

A new virus identified in China in early August arouses the curiosity of scientists. It would come from the animal and more particularly from the shrew. No serious cases have been detected since its appearance in 2018 and its circulation seems to be very slow. Explanations.

Langya henipavirus is the nickname of a new virus identified in recent days in China. It was first detected in 2018 in the northern provinces of Shandong and Henan. Since then, 35 patients are believed to have been infected through 2021.

The shrew in question?

According to the first data, the langya henipavirus is the result of a zoonosis, a disease which is transmitted from animals to humans, say our colleagues from the Guardian. Scientists have tested wild animals and found it in more than “262 shrews.” This result therefore suggests that “the shrew could be a natural reservoir” of the virus. Cases of infection in domestic goats and dogs have also been detected in small proportions.

Of the 35 sick patients, 26 were diagnosed only for Langya henipavirus. The majority of the cases identified concern farmers and workers. According to initial data, “contact tracing of nine patients with 15 close-contact family members revealed no transmission of LayV,” the researchers found. First results which remain to be confirmed with a larger sample of patients.

What symptoms?

In humans, this virus has caused classic symptoms of an infection. Namely: fever, fatigue, cough, loss of appetite and muscle aches. Flu-like symptoms. In addition, fever was present in all patients.

Since the onset of this disease in humans, no deaths have been recorded. According to Professor Wang Linfa, of the Duke-NUS School of Medicine, quoted by the Global Times, the cases remain mild and there is “no need to panic.”

A henipavirus

After sequencing the langya henipavirus, scientists determined that it was a henipavirus. A virus that compiles Hendra virus and Nipah virus. These infectious microorganisms had been identified in horses in Australia for Hendra, and would be the cause of an epidemic in Southeast Asia for Nipah, according to the Guardian.

Following this identification, the Taiwan Center for Disease Control (CDC) went on alert and announced that it was putting in place virus monitoring and genome sequencing measures.

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