New virus infects 35 in China: Here’s what you need to know

Langya henipavirus, also known as “LayV” was identified in the Chinese provinces of Shandong and Henan and has reportedly infected around 35 people.

The virus is causing some concern for health officials, who are wary of all possible outbreaks following the global pandemic of COVID-19.

A recent study by the New England Journal of Medicine titled “A Zoonotic Henipavirus in Febrile Patients in China” was cited by Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control, and researchers found the symptoms of the virus to be very similar to those of the flu: Fever, cough, nausea, headache, fatigue, muscle aches and loss of appetite.

Additionally, 26 of the 35 infected patients only tested positive for the LayV virus, meaning there is no way it could have been confused with another pathogen in their body at the time.

“These 26 patients presented with fever (100% of the patients), fatigue (54%), cough (50%), anorexia (50%), myalgia (46%), nausea (38%), headache (35%), and vomiting (35%), accompanied by abnormalities of thrombocytopenia (35%), leukopenia (54%), and impaired liver (35%) and kidney (8%) function,” the research read.

All infected patients had a shared “recent history of animal exposure in eastern China,” which many think is where they contracted the virus. It was detected via throat swab samples similar to the nasal swabs used to detect COVID-19.

In general, henipaviruses have been known to cause fatal diseases in humans, but are more commonly found in bats, rodents and shrews.

There has not yet been a confirmed case of human-to-human transfer of the LayV virus, something that may be reassuring to a world that suffered years of lockdowns due to the coronavirus. However, researchers warn that that doesn’t mean it is an impossibility.

“The infection in the human population may be sporadic,” continued the research notes. “Contact tracing of 9 patients with 15 close-contact family members revealed no close-contact LayV transmission, but our sample size was too small to determine the status of human-to-human transmission for LayV.”


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