New zoonotic virus reported in China even as Covid-19 stays on

Novel Langya henipavirus cases reported in eastern China provinces

Even as the world is still busy finding ways and means to tackle the coronavirus variants that had left many infected and the economy locked down, news from China has begun sending shockwaves across the planet.

The belief is that the Covid-19 pandemic, caused by the spread of coronavirus, originated in China. Adding fear in a manifold manner, scientists in eastern China are reportedly busy now tracking a new zoonotic virus that has left many dozen people infected.

Termed the novel Langya henipavirus (LayV), the animal-derived virus has been detected in at least 35 people in the Shandong and Henan provinces of eastern China. These patients were those who had sought medical help after having shown symptoms like fever, fatigue and cough.

Virus passed on to humans from shrews

Primary investigation has thrown up answers to questions as to how they were infected in the first place. Scientists working on the new virus have found that they had been passed from animals. The good news however is that evidences do not point at transmission of the LayV virus among humans. However, much probe would be needed to ascertain this aspect.

It has also been found that the animals from which the LayV virus has passed on to humans are predominantly the shrews. The instances of the LayV virus infection came to light first after it was highlighted in a letter written by researchers from China, Singapore and Australia. The discovery had then chosen for publication in the New England Journal of Medicine this month. Scientists have been looking to find out more on the new virus and are trying to locate the actual origin and have been studying in depth the nature of virus transmission to human from animals like the shrew.

Not found fatal so far

A BBC report quoted one of the scientists as saying that the novel Langya henipavirus have not been found as fatal or very serious so far. That means there is no need for panic, as of now. Further studies are currently on to know more on what LayV is capable of. The scientist has cautioned the world to stay alert as viruses could be unpredictable when they infect humans.

Shrews around the two provinces have also been tested for the virus, and it was fund that 27 percent of them were carrying the virus. This could mean that they act as natural reservoirs for the LayV virus. The report revealed that around 5 percent of dogs and 2 percent of goats were also tested positive.

It needs to be noted that the rush of zoonotic viruses has been common, and ever since the coronavirus created havoc, more attention has been given to the study of animal-borne infections. As per a United Nations warning some time earlier, more of such diseases could prove to be a major issue in the area of human health. The exploitation of wildlife and climate change may be seen as reasons.

Sanjeev Ramachandran

A journalist with 23 years of experience, Sanjeev has worked with reputed media houses such as Business Standard, The Ne More »

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