Nearly three dozen people in China have been ill with a newly identified virus from the same family as the deadly Nipah and Hendra viruses, although there is no evidence that the pathogen can be passed from person to person.
The virus, called Langya’s Henipavirus or LayV, was found thanks to an early detection system of febrile people with a recent history of animal exposure in eastern China. Patients – mainly farmers – also reported fatigue, cough, loss of appetite and pain, with several abnormalities of developing blood cells and signs of liver and kidney damage. Everyone survived.
Among the 35 patients, 26 were infected with LayV alone, according to a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine. There was no evidence that they had been in close contact or had a history of common exposure, suggesting human infection it could be sporadic, the researchers said. Tests detected the virus in 27% of shrewsa known vector of similar henipaviruses, suggesting that the small furry mole-like mammals could be a natural reservoir, they said.
Further investigation is needed to better understand the infection, according to researchers from Beijing, Singapore and Australia. Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control said they are paying attention to the report and plan to begin screening for the virus.
The spread of germs from animals to humans, called zoonoses, is common and accounts for more than six out of 10 known infectious diseases in people, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most of the time they cause limited disease, dying out without having a major impact. In the in the aftermath of Covid-19however, more tracking systems are now in place that harvest new pathogens.