New virus identified in China: symptoms, what it is and how it is transmitted

It is called the Langya virus (LayV) the new virus that has been identified in China where it infected 35 people in Shandong and Henan provinces. But what is this virus, what are the symptoms and how is it transmitted?

Langya virus, of the genus henipavirus, was identified in throat swabs thanks to metagenomic analysis and then to the isolation of the pathogen. Described in a study by scientists from China and Singapore and published in the ‘Nejm’, this infection – a zoonosis – causes symptoms such as fever, fatigue, cough and can also impair liver and kidney function. There is currently no vaccine or treatment for henipavirus, the only therapy is the management of complications.

The genus henipavirus is one of the emerging zoonoses in the Asia-Pacific region. In fact, other viruses of this ‘family’ have been observed, such as Hendra (HeV) and Nipah (NiV), which can infect humans and find their natural host in bats. According to the World Health Organization, henipaviruses can cause serious diseases in animals and humans and are classified with a biosecurity level 4, i.e. with mortality rates between 40 and 75%. Much higher than Covid.

The new Langya virus (LayV) “is a zoonosis that must be monitored very well,” Maria Caramelli, veterinarian of the Emerging Diseases Surveillance Laboratory of the Zooprophylactic Institute of Piedmont, told Salute. It is a pathogen “of the genus of henipaviruses, which are found in bats or spider mice where they have their reservoir. For example, the Nipah virus is of this genus and can affect horses, but these agents have a large spectrum of animals from infect, including humans. So there is some concern about this Chinese outbreak. But now this cluster is linked to conditions of promiscuity with animals. We know that for this kind of virus a human-to-human passage is sporadic and has little efficacy, but it cannot be excludedas other cases teach us “.

“Over 70% of the diseases that affect humans come from animals – the expert remarks – and this must make us think about the importance of prevention and surveillance which in Europe is high, but in other countries it is lower. Of course. – he underlines – the fact that this cluster has come to light is a good sign “.


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