Ce que l’on sait du « Langya » ce nouveau virus découvert en Chine

Ce que l'on sait du « Langya » ce nouveau virus découvert en Chine

KATERYNA KON/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY via Getty Images Image showing the structure or composition of a flu virus (Influenza). Includes surface glycoproteins: hemagglutinins (in red) and neuraminidase (in purple)


“Langya” is a new virus identified in China by Taiwanese researchers.

HEALTH – After the coronavirus, now it is the Langya virus that worries the Chinese authorities, reports the newspaper Taipei Times East Tuesday, August 9. This new pathogen has just been discovered in China by Taiwanese scientists, while the two countries are mired in serious diplomatic tensions.

The new Langya henipavirus (LayV) was first detected in the northeastern provinces of Shandong and Henan in late 2018, but was not formally identified by scientists until last week, the British daily reports. The Guardian. Only 35 cases have been identified since 2018 and all of them have been detected in China.

The shrew would be the reservoir of the virus

The first information about the virus was published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) a few days ago. What we know at the moment is that the virus would probably be a zoonosis, that is, a virus transmitted from animals to humans. Early tests in wild animals indicate that the shrew could be the host animal. But the virus has also been detected in goats (2%) and dogs (5%).

Infectologists have long warned that human pressure on natural environments, such as deforestation or intensification of agriculture, increases the risk of virus transmission from animals to humans. Today, 75% of emerging infectious diseases in humans are zoonoses, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

In addition, although the origin of Covid-19 has not been established with certainty, the zoonosis trail is favored because SARS-CoV-2 is very close to a virus detected in bats.

It is not comparable to the coronavirus

Disease transmitted by an animal and discovered in China, the comparison with the coronavirus is quickly established but these two viruses are not comparable. Unlike Covid, the langya “does not spread rapidly in humans”, explains Professor François Balloux of the UCL Genetics institute on Twitter. “If there is no person-to-person transmission, it is hard to imagine a true epidemic because not everyone is exposed to shrews.”he continues.

Virologist Yannick Simonin reminds him, in the parisian that every year viruses arise without necessarily causing pandemics: “This has been circulating at low noise for several years and we are not in an emergency situation as happened with SARS-CoV-2. There are no particular concerns at this stage, but the need for further study.”.

There is no pandemic on the horizon, but the authors of the report of the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) consider it important to carry out new studies to “ better understand human disease” at the origin of the dozens of identified cases.

A deadly virus that spreads little between humans

In humans, the Langya It causes symptoms such as fever, fatigue, cough, loss of appetite, and muscle aches. It belongs to the henipavirus family, which includes Nipah and Hendra viruses, which are very deadly. Nipah, which caused epidemics in Southeast Asia in the early 2000s, has an estimated mortality rate of 40 to 75 percent, according to the WHO. Which is much higher than that of Covid-19. For example, in France, the Covid mortality rate was 0.5% on April 26, 2022 according to the agency. statistics. At the moment, there is no vaccine to counteract the effects of Langya.

Even if with such a high mortality rate, the virus may be of concern (however, no deaths due to Langya have been made public), the situation is not yet alarming. Again, the disease is progressing slowly, with only 35 cases recorded between April 2018 and August 2021. Taiwan’s Center for Disease Control (CDC) announced on Sunday that surveillance measures for the virus will be implemented in the coming weeks. .

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