The new animal virus called Langya henipavirus (LayV) found in eastern China It has affected around 35 people since 2018. However, some outbreaks generated in recent days have caused concern in the Asian population.
Some researchers believe that LayV is carried by shrews, that could have infected people directly or through an intermediary animal.
As described in the New England Journal of Medicine on August 4, this virus is related to two other henipaviruses that infect people: Hendra virus and Nipah virus. The main symptoms are fever, cough and fatigue..
Nevertheless, scientists say they’re not too worried because the virus doesn’t appear to spread easily between people, nor is it fatal. “There’s no particular need to worry about this, but continued vigilance is critical,” says Edward Holmes, an evolutionary virologist at the University of Sydney in Australia.
They also highlight the importance of regularly testing people and animals for emerging viruses to understand the risk of zoonotic diseases, those that can be transmitted from other animals to humans.
Researchers analyzed several animals to determine the origin of the Langya virus
To date they have not found evidence that determines the contagion between people. To determine the possible animal origin of the virus, researchers from Johns Hopkins universities in Baltimore, Maryland, United States, and Sydney, Australia, analyzed goats, dogs, pigs, and cattle living in villages in the eastern Chinese provinces of Shandong and Henan. , where the infected patients came from in search of antibodies against LayV.
The results demonstrated the existence of LayV antibodies in a few goats and dogs and identified LayV viral RNA in 27% of the 262 sampled shrews, which suggested that the latter are a reservoir of the virus, transmitting LayV among themselves and to a few people for reasons still unknown.
Holmes says that there is an urgent need for a global surveillance system to detect virus infections and quickly communicate those results to prevent further pandemics, such as the one caused by COVID-19. “These kinds of secondary zoonotic events happen all the time,” she says. “The world needs to wake up.”
The virus is named after a city called Langya in Shandong, where scientists sequenced the LayV genome from a throat swab of the first identified patient with the disease, a 53-year-old woman.
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