Known as the Langya Henipavirus, or “Langya”, 35 people have so far become infected across China’s Shandong and Henan provinces. According to Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC), so far no one has died or suffered a serious illness, the Taipei Times reports. But given that the virus is from the Henipavirus family, it could potentially be fatal. That is because the two other viruses from this family, Hendra virus and Nipah virus, can have fatality rates of up to 75 percent in severe cases, according to the World Health Organisation.
Up to 26 of those infected with the virus that is reportedly passed on from shrews appear to be suffering from flu-like symptoms.
These include fever, tiredness, cough, headache, and vomiting.
Other abnormalities included deficiency of blood platelets, a loss of white cells, as well as impaired liver and reduced kidney function.
And so far, there have been no reports of human-to-human contact.
While the virus was only formally discovered last week, it was first detected in the northeastern Chinese provinces mentioned above back in 2018.
But it was not until last week that it was formally identified by scientists.
The CDC is currently monitoring the virus spread, and is reportedly in the process of setting up domestic laboratories for genome sequencing and boosted surveillance.
Researchers have also kept tabs on “Lanya” to find out more about the novel disease.
In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine last week, an international team of researchers found that “the shrew may be a natural reservoir” for the virus after finding LayV viral RNA in more than 25 percent of 262 shrews when conducting testing on the animals.
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The report added: “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.”
But while there appears to have been no human-to-human transmission, Global Times notes that previous reports may indicate that the virus can be transmitted from person to person.
This could raise concerns over a new pandemic, given that it is widely believed that coronavirus was passed from animals to humans.
Wang Xinyu, Deputy Chief Physician at the department of Infectious Diseases of Huashan Hospital, told Global Times: “Coronavirus will not be the last infectious disease to cause a pandemic worldwide, as new infectious diseases will have an increasingly greater impact on human daily life.”