Langya Virus: What is this new zoonotic virus that has infected 35 people in China?
A new zoonotic virus has been discovered in China’s two eastern provinces, almost three years after the first coronavirus was discovered there. To date, 35 illnesses have been reported. The Langya Henipavirus or LayV is another name for this novel henipavirus (Langya Virus).
Henipaviruses are categorised as pathogens at biosafety level 4 (BSL4). They can cause serious sickness in both people and animals, and there are currently no approved medications or vaccinations designed specifically for humans.
What is the Langya virus and how it is detected?
According to a recent study titled “A Zoonotic Henipavirus in Febrile Patients in China” that was published in The New England Journal of Medicine, the recently discovered virus is a “phylogenetically distinct Henipavirus”.
Prior to this, the genus Henipavirus has been divided into Hendra, Nipah, Cedar, Mojiang, and the Ghanaian bat virus. The Cedar virus, Ghanaian bat virus, and Mojiang virus are not recognised to be diseases in humans, according to the US CDC. Hendra and Nipah, however, infect people and have the potential to be lethal.
The NEJM paper calls for further research into the illnesses linked to Langya, which is known to induce fever in humans.
According to the research, Langya’s genomic organisation is “similar to that of other Henipaviruses” and it has a close relationship with the “Mojiang Henipavirus, which was identified in southern China.”
In eastern China, surveillance testing on individuals with fever and a recent history of animal exposure led to the discovery of Langya. It was found in the throat swab sample of one of those individuals and isolated. In Shandong and Henan provinces, 35 individuals with LayV infection were discovered, of which 26 had no other pathogens but were exclusively infected with this novel virus, according to the NEJM research.
What are the Langya virus’s signs and symptoms?
The study examined 26 individuals who just had a LayV infection to find the symptoms that went along with it. All 26 had a fever, but 54% said they were tired, 50% had a cough, and 38% said they felt queasy. In addition, 35% of the total 26 reported experiencing nausea and vomiting. According to the study, 35% of participants had compromised liver function and 8% had compromised renal function. The study found that the individuals also had abnormalities related to “thrombocytopenia (35%), leukopenia (54%), poor liver (35%) and kidney (8%) function.” Low platelet counts are referred to as thrombocytopenia, and a drop in white blood cell counts, known as leukopenia, lowers the body’s capacity to fight disease.
Where did the Langya virus originate?
The new virus most likely moved from one animal to people. Shrews may be the LayV virus’s natural hosts since shrews have the highest concentration of the virus’ RNA. After surveying both domestic and wild animals, the study focused on shrews. Goats and dogs were found to be seropositive among domesticated animals.
There are still no conclusive solutions. The study’s authors have emphasised that their sample size is insufficient to determine human-to-human transmission. They do, however, note that there was no close contact or shared exposure history among the 35 people who had the LayV infection, indicating that the infection in the human population may be sporadic.