The virus is called Langya. And the authorities in China are urgently looking into this new virus which is zoonotic i.e. it can be transferred from animals to people which, you may recall, is how Covid-19 started. Langya has infected over three dozen people in the country as reported on several news media websites in Asia yesterday.
The Taipei Times reports that Langya is transmitted to humans from animals, particularly shrews. Are some Chinese people eating shrews? We know that Chinese people like to eat wild animals and animals that in the West we would never eat. And we also know that the so-called wet markets in China are where these wild animals are slaughtered in an unregulated way which promotes the transmission of viruses in wild animals through body fluids to humans. It is believed that Covid started that way.
The full name of this novel virus is Langya henipavirus (LayV). It is part of the genus of viruses called henipaviruses. Within this genus of viruses there is the Hendra virus which was first identified in Australia in 1996 and is known to infect humans and the Nipah virus which was first identified in Malaysia in 1999. Both these infections have high fatality rates in people.
Thirty-five people have been infected by the virus. The symptoms of Langya virus invariably include fever. Fatigue is the second most common symptom in 54% of people followed by a cough in 50% of the people and muscle aches and pains in 46%.
More than half of the infected people had leucopenia which is an insufficient number of pathogen-fighting white blood cells. And 35% of those infected had thrombocytopenia which is a low number of blood-clotting cells (platelets). Impaired liver function affected 35% of people and kidney function was impaired in 8% of people. The researchers detected the disease in four out of 79 dogs (5 per cent) and three of 168 goats (2 per cent). That’s worrying. Note: PLEASE DON’T DO ANYTHING STUPID SUCH AS GET RID OF YOUR DOG.
Researchers currently believe that the shrew may be a natural reservoir for the virus. However, the New Scientist Website tells us that the henipaviruses is “typically harboured in fruit bats”. As I recall, bats were assessed as being part of the chain of transmission of the Covid virus to pangolins. Endangered Pangolins are heavily persecuted and eaten in China. As I also recall, bats have harboured the Covid virus.
At the moment, the researchers have not found any evidence of transmission of the virus between people suggesting, at the moment, that the virus doesn’t pass from person to person but from animal to person. This describes a zoonotic disease. As is Covid.
No deaths have been reported in any of those who have been infected. They believe that the virus doesn’t typically spread between people and therefore it is unlikely to become a pandemic.
Francois Balloux at University College London states that as there have been so few infections in people this is an indication that the virus does not spread fast. He also stated that the likely source of future pandemics is likely to come from the wild animal population as was the case with Covid.
Below are some more articles on zoonotic diseases.