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Home / News / World /  New Langya virus hits China: Experts alert it belongs to family of ‘deadly’ Nipah virus. How fatal is the infection?
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The newly identified Langya virus, which has infected over three dozen people in China, belongs to the family of deadly Nipah and Hendra viruses, experts pointed out, however, it is still to be known whether the pathogen can be transmitted from person-to-person.

The Langya henipavirus or LayV was first detected when a group of people, who were exposed to animals in eastern China region, developed fever and got themselves tested. Most of the patients were farmers.

The patients complained of fever, fatigue, cough, anorexia, myalgia, nausea, headache, and vomiting, accompanied by abnormalities of thrombocytopenia, leukopenia, and impaired liver and kidney function.

Among the 35 patients, 26 were infected only with LayV, according to a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine. There was no evidence they had been in close contact or had a common exposure history, suggesting human infection may be sporadic, the researchers said. Tests detected the virus in 27% of shrews, a known vector for similar henipaviruses, suggesting the small, furry mole-like mammals may be a natural reservoir, they said.

Speaking about whether human-to-human transmission is possible, the article cited, There was no close contact or common exposure history among the patients, which suggests that the infection in the human population may be sporadic. 

“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."

Meanwhile, the researchers from Beijing, Singapore and Australia pointed out further investigation is needed to better understand the infection. Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control said it is paying attention to the report, and plans to start screening for the virus.

The spread of germs from animals to humans, called zoonosis, is common, accounting for more than six of out of every 10 known infectious diseases in people, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Most of the time they cause limited disease, dying out without having a major impact. In the aftermath of Covid-19, however, more tracking systems now are in place and picking up novel pathogens.

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