Newly identified Langya henipavirus infects 35 in China

Nearly three dozen people have fallen ill from a new virus spreading in China – scientists warn it’s too early to say if it’s deadly or spreading among people.

Langya henipavirus — or LayV — appears to be leaping from animals in parts of China nearly three years after the coronavirus pandemic began.

It belongs to a family of viruses known to infect humans and cause deadly diseases, a China-led team of international scientists wrote in the peer-reviewed paper.

These include the Nipah virus, which spreads from pigs and kills up to 75% of those infected, according to the World Health Organization.

So far, however, none of the 35 confirmed LayV cases have proven fatal.

Twenty-six of those cases were found to have only LayV and no other illnesses – and all had fevers, with half also suffering from fatigue and a cough.

The new Langya henipavirus, or LayV, closely resembles the Nipah virus, killing up to 75% of those infected.
The new Langya henipavirus, or LayV, closely resembles the Nipah virus, killing up to 75% of those infected.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

There were other “abnormalities,” with more than half – 54% – developing leukopenia, a decrease in the number of disease-fighting white blood cells in the blood. More than a third also had impaired liver function and 8% also saw worsening kidney function.

After testing 25 wildlife species in the area, scientists found it in 27% of the shrews tested, suggesting the small, furry, mole-like mammals “may be a natural reservoir of LayV,” the scientists wrote.

The same family of viruses was already known to spread among humans — but there weren’t enough LayV cases to “determine the status of human-to-human transmission,” the scientists warned.

People walk through downtown Beijing
Nearly three dozen people have contracted LayV in China.
iStock/Getty Images

“There was no close contact or shared history of exposure among the patients, suggesting that the infection may be sporadic in the human population,” the study says optimistically.

“Contact tracing of 9 patients with 15 close contact family members revealed no LayV transmission through close contact, but our sample size was too small” to be certain, the report pointed out.

Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is among those paying close attention to the spread of the virus, Channel NewsAsia explained. Newly identified Langya henipavirus infects 35 in China


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