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Health authorities are on high alert after reports of a new virus have arisen in the People’s Republic of China.
At least 35 people have been infected by Langya henipavirus (LayV) in China’s Shandong and Henan provinces in the northeast, according to Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control.
The health agency cited a recent study from the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), which is titled “A Zoonotic Henipavirus in Febrile Patients in China.”
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Researchers who monitored the infections found that LayV symptoms appear to share similarities with the flu, including fever, cough, headache, muscle soreness, fatigue, loss of appetite and nausea.
Health experts in China have detected 35 cases of Langya henipavirus in Shandong and Henan.
Twenty-six of the 35 patients were said to be infected with LayV only, meaning there were no other pathogens present.
“These 26 patients presented with fever (100% of the patients), fatigue (54%), cough (50%), anorexia (50%), myalgia (46%), nausea (38%), headache (35%), and vomiting (35%), accompanied by abnormalities of thrombocytopenia (35%), leukopenia (54%), and impaired liver (35%) and kidney (8%) function,” researchers wrote.
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The infected LayV patients reportedly had a “recent history of animal exposure in eastern China,” according to the study’s summary.
Medical experts detected the new virus through throat swab samples, which were put under “metagenomic analysis and subsequent virus isolation.”
The genome of LayV is reportedly composed of 18,402 nucleotides, and it has an identical genome organization to other henipaviruses in the Paramyxoviridae family – also known as a family of single-stranded RNA viruses.
Henipaviruses can infect humans and cause fatal diseases, according to the NEJM study. These viruses are typically found in bats, rodents and shrews.
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So far, there hasn’t been human-to-human transmission of LayV and the patients weren’t in contact.
“The infection in the human population may be sporadic,” researchers wrote. “Contact tracing of 9 patients with 15 -contact family members revealed no -contact LayV transmission, but our sample size was too small to determine the status of human-to-human transmission for LayV.”
Rodents can be carriers of henipaviruses and other infectious diseases.
The study noted that further assessments need to be conducted to see if LayV could have a cross-reaction with the Mojiang virus, which is another henipavirus that can cause lethal pneumonia.
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Detection of LayV comes at a time when most of the world is battling continued COVID-19 infections along with monkeypox containment.