China has now discovered a potentially deadly new virus that is believed to have been passed to humans by animals, particularly shrews according to reports.
There have been 35 confirmed human cases of The Langya henipavirus reported across two of China’s eastern provinces so far, Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said. They added that the virus was new and had not affected humans before.
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The patients are reportedly experiencing flu-like symptoms and the cases have not resulted in any deaths. Rodents like shrews, moles and hedgehogs are natural reservoirs for the virus.
Is this a case of ‘here we go again?’
The Mirror reports: Officially dubbed Langya henipavirus, it’s part of the Henipavirus family.
Two species of the same category have been identified in the past – the Hendra and Nipah viruses, the Sun reports.
The two viruses are said to create horrific illnesses with no known cure, vaccine or treatment.
World Health Organisation data classes the viral family as biosafety Level 4 – meaning it has a high risk of aerosol-transmission and of causing life-threatening disease with no way of minimising its severity.
It has a case fatality rate of between 40 and 75 per cent.
According to China’s state-run Global Times , the 35 infectees are still alive and none have developed serious illnesses.
The virus was detected after scientists checked patients who were running a fever, according to an article published in New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM)
The symptoms reported included a fever, fatigue, muscle pain, loss of appetite, a cough, nausea, vomiting and headaches.
The paper added that the patients had been in contact with animals before their diagnosis.
As the virus has been detected among a cluster of people, it’s likely it may already be passing between humans.
The paper reads: “There was no close contact or common exposure history among the patients, which suggests that the infection in the human population may be sporadic.
“Contact tracing of nine patients with 15 close-contact family members revealed no close-contact LayV transmission.
“But our sample size was too small to determine the status of human-to-human transmission for LayV.”
Scientists studying 25 animals found the most-obvious carrier of the Langya virus were shrews, a small mole-like mammal found in China.
We’re living through a “new pandemic era” according to experts, who say the next ‘Disease X’ could be just around the corner.
Disease X is a placeholder name adopted by the World Health Organisation three years ago, representing a hypothetical, as-yet unknown pathogen that could cause a future epidemic.
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