In China, a new virus has been identified that has already infected 35 people in 2 provinces: it is a henipavirus called Langya among which symptoms are fever, fatigue, cough, anorexia, myalgia and nausea.
It is a virus of animal origin identified in the Chinese provinces of Shandong and Henan.
According to a pool of scientists from Beijing and Singapore, who published an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, responsible for the infection is a henipavirus (called Langya henipavirus, abbreviated as LayV) that is associated with some febrile cases.
It was identified in throat swabs by metagenomic analysis and then by isolation of the pathogen.
Infected people have symptoms including fever, fatigue, cough, anorexia, myalgia, and nausea. Henipaviruses are classified by the WHO as a biosecurity level 4 virus: they can cause serious diseases in animals and humans with mortality rates between 40 and 75%, therefore much more than Covid.
There is currently no vaccine or treatment for henipavirus; the only therapy is the management of complications.
“Cases of Langya henipavirus have so far not been fatal or very serious, so there’s no need to panic,” said Wang Linfa, professor of the Emerging Infectious Diseases Program at Duke-NUS Medical School who was involved in the study, adding that it is however a cause for concern as many viruses that exist in nature have unpredictable results when infecting humans.
Additionally, human-to-human transmission of the virus has not yet been proven, although previous reports suggest it can be transmitted from person to person.