China reports a new type of animal-derived, Langya henipavirus or LayV. 35 people in Shandong Province and Henan Province have been infected with this virus. According to the report, the viral load was found in throat swab samples of the febrile patients who had a history of contact with animals. The animals tested had LayV viral RNA in more than a quarter of 262 shrews, which also suggests shrews could be a natural reservoir.
As per the researchers, the virus is associated with febrile cases, with the patients’ showing symptoms of fever, fatigue, cough, anorexia, myalgia, and nausea. Out of 35, 26 patients have shown these symptoms. Most of the cases included farmers and factory workers. The researchers in the statement said, “Contact tracing of nine 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.”
World Health Organization (WHO) has classified Henipavirus as biosafety level 4, with a fatality rate of 40-75%. This makes the LayV more dangerous than novel coronavirus if spread in humans. Currently, there is no treatment for this virus, which makes it a cause of concern. However, there has been no fatality issue or chronic cases of the virus.
Wang Linfa, professor in Programme in Emergency Infectious Diseases at Duke NUS Medical School, assures the masses not to panic but to be careful as many viruses existing in nature have unpredictable results when they infect humans.