Explained: What is Langya, a new zoonotic virus that has infected 35 people in China?

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Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: What is Langya, a new zoonotic virus that has infected 35 people in China?” published in Indian Express on 11th August 2022.

What is the News?

A new zoonotic virus named Langya Henipavirus or the LayV has been discovered in China with 35 infections identified so far.

What is Langya Virus?

Langya is a part of a genus of viruses called henipaviruses.

Note: Henipaviruses belong to the family of paramyxoviruses. They can cause severe illness in animals and humans and are classified as biosafety level 4 (BSL4) pathogens with case fatality rates between 40-75%.

– The types of Henipaviruses that had been identified till now include Hendra, Nipah, Cedar, Mojiang and the Ghanaian bat virus. 

– According to US CDS, the Cedar virus, Ghanaian bat virus and Mojiang virus are not known to cause human disease. But Hendra and Nipah infect humans and can cause fatal illness.

– As of now there are no licensed drugs or vaccines meant for humans. 

Where was Langya Virus discovered?

Langya was discovered in eastern China during surveillance testing of patients who had fever along with a recent history of animal exposure.

Where has Langya virus come from?

In all likelihood, the new virus has jumped from an animal to humans. The LayV virus RNA has been predominantly found in shrews, which may be its natural hosts.

Note: It is not known yet whether this virus is capable of human-to-human transmission.

What are the symptoms of the Langya virus?

Fever, Fatigue, cough, muscle aches and pains, nausea, headache and vomiting were the common symptoms.

More than half of the patients also had leukopenia defined as an insufficient number of pathogen-fighting white blood cells. More than a third had thrombocytopenia, a low number of blood-clotting cells called platelets. An impaired liver or kidney function was also detected in a few patients.

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