35 persons in China’s Shandong and Henan provinces are thought to have contracted a novel virus called Langya henipavirus over the course of about two years, from 2021.
It shares a connection with viruses that harm people, the Hendra and Nipah viruses. We don’t yet know much about the new virus, also known as LayV, particularly whether it spreads from person to person.
Here is what we currently know.
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How ill are They Becoming?
The novel virus was initially discovered by Chinese researchers who were doing routine surveillance on individuals with fevers who had recently reported interaction with animals. After identifying the virus, the researchers searched for it in additional persons.
Although we don’t know how long the patients were ill, the symptoms reported—fever, exhaustion, coughing, loss of appetite, muscle aches, nausea, and headache—appeared to be generally minor.
A smaller percentage of patients suffered potentially more serious problems, such as pneumonia and changes in the function of the liver and kidneys. However, there was no information on the severity of these anomalies, the need for hospitalization, or whether any cases were fatal.
From Where did This Virus Originate?
The authors also looked into the possibility that the virus originated in domestic or wild animals. There was more concrete proof that a sizable part of wild shrews were harboring the virus, even though they only discovered a tiny number of goats and dogs that may have previously been infected with the virus.
This shows that wild shrews may have transmitted the virus to humans.
Does This Sickness Have a Virus as Its True Cause?
To discover this new virus, the researchers turned to a cutting-edge method known as metagenomic analysis. Researchers sequence every genetic component before discarding the “known” sequences (such as human DNA) in order to seek for “unknown” sequences that could be a new virus.
The authors admit that this new virus does not yet match these requirements, and it has been questioned if they still apply in the present.
There was evidence that 14 individuals’s immune systems had responded to the virus, and persons who were more ill had more virus, according to the authors, who claim they were unable to identify any other factors contributing to the illness in 26 people.
What do Related Viruses Teach Us?
The Nipah virus and the Hendra virus, two additional viruses that are relevant in humans, appear to be distant relatives of this new virus. The fictional MEV-1 virus in the Contagion movie was modeled around this group of viruses.
The hendra virus was originally identified in Queensland in 1994, where it claimed the lives of trainer Vic Rail and 14 horses.
Since then, several horse outbreaks in Queensland and northern New South Wales have been documented. These outbreaks are widely believed to be the result of “spillover” infections from flying foxes.
Seven human cases of the Hendra virus, including four fatal cases, have been reported in Australia (primarily among veterinarians treating sick horses).
Globally, the Nipah virus is more prominent, and Bangladesh is typically the site of outbreaks.
Infections can range in intensity from extremely mild to deadly encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).
People who had direct contact with pigs were reported to have the initial outbreak in Malaysia and Singapore. However, it is believed that more recent epidemics have been brought on by food tainted with sick bats’ urine or saliva.
Notably, the Nipah virus appears to be spread from person to person, primarily among individuals in the same home.