What’s the new Langya virus found in China?

What’s the new Langya virus found in China?
A medical worker takes a swab sample from a resident for the nucleic acid test at a makeshift testing site, amid lockdown measures to curb the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Sanya, Hainan province, China August 9, 2022. China Daily via REUTERS

More than two years from the onset of the COVID pandemic, we’re already seeing another widespread health concern with monkeypox. And with its first case in 2018, a new virus was discovered in China. Langya henipavirus (LayV) has been known to cause fever, fatigue, cough, loss of appetite, body aches, nausea, vomiting and headaches. Some patients also had impaired liver function.

Last week, scientists’ findings on the virus were officially published. They detected it in two eastern Chinese provinces. Like with COVID, animals likely passed on the virus to humans via direct contact, most likely from shrews. The good news? It looks like LayV can’t be transmitted between people. So far, LayV has been found in 35 people, but none of them died from the virus. So, because of that, scientists aren’t ringing the alarm bell just yet. Because of such a small sample size, though, it’s also hard to come up with set conclusions.

Key comments:

“Contact tracing of 9 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," researchers said in the study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“This is from a family of viruses that we know are concerning, and it appears that this group has now added a new lineage of viruses that are capable of severe disease," said Vaughn Cooper, an evolutionary biology professor at the University of Pittsburgh.