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New animal-borne virus detected in China: 35 infections confirmed

The pathogen belongs to the Henipavirus type and was detected in Shandong and Henan provinces

August 9, 2022 3:11pm

Updated: August 9, 2022 10:58pm

Scientists in China reported 35 cases of a new virus of animal origin called Langya. The infections that have been detected so far are focused in two regions, Shandong and Henan, according to a study published in the scientific journal The New England Journal of Medicine on August 4.

The pathogen belongs to the Henipavirus type and was detected in samples taken from the throat of people who have had contact with domestic animals.

"The 35 patients in China did not have close contact with each other or a common exposure history," explained Chuang Jen-Hsiang, deputy director general of the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control, quoted by Excélsior.

Those infected present symptoms such as fever, tiredness, cough, loss of appetite, headache, muscle aches, as well as nausea.

Scientists also pointed out that the new virus is similar to Nipah, one of the most dangerous viruses in the world, which has no cure and a mortality rate of between 40% and 75%, reported Excélsior.

Henipavirus is one of the emerging causes of zoonoses—the jumping of diseases from animals to humans—in the Asia-Pacific region. Both Hendra and Nipah viruses of this genus infect humans, although fruit bats may be the natural host for both pathogens, added Aristegui Noticias.

Although this type of contagion cannot yet be ruled out, so far there is no proof of human-to-human transmission of Langya, according to the Global Times, quoted by El Mundo.

"Contact tracing showed no viral transmission between close contacts and the family, suggesting that human infections may be sporadic," Chuang added.

The World Health Organization (WHO) states that, in humans, the Hendra virus causes infections ranging from asymptomatic to acute respiratory infections and severe encephalitis.

The deputy director of the Department of Infectious Pathology of Huashan Hospital, affiliated with Fudan University (Shanghai), warned that "coronavirus will not be the last contagious disease to cause a pandemic, as new diseases will have an increasing impact on the daily life of the human race.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) was first reported in Wuhan, China, on 31 December 2019. WHO officially declared the pandemic, on March 11 of that year. 

The disease spread to several countries around the world, affecting hundreds of thousands of people on all continents and causing a death toll that is still rising.