Amid the Chinese military threat, Taiwan announced on Sunday, August 7, that a new virus, baptized “Langya henipavirus (LayV)”had been discovered in China. The Taiwan Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have reported 35 infected people in Shandong and Henan, two provinces located in the east of the country, reveals the Taipei Times, a Taiwanese English-language newspaper. Since then, the pathogen has been placed under surveillance. The world takes stock of what we know about this virus.
- A study conducted between 2018 and 2021
The announcement of the discovery of this new virus by Taiwan is based on a study published in the New England Journal of MedicineThursday, August 4, and carried out by researchers from universities and institutes in China, Singapore and Australia.
The survey was conducted between 2018 and 2021, with patients with fever and in contact with animals before their symptoms appear. These scientists were studying zoonoses (infectious diseases transmitted to humans by animals), and managed to identify a new virus of the genus henipavirus, since they named it “Langya henipavirus” (Lay V).
- No deaths to date
The study identifies thirty-five patients, mainly farmers located in these two Chinese provinces, suffering from Langya henipavirus infection; among them, twenty-six were only infected with LayV.
According to this survey, all developed a fever and more than half suffered from fatigue, cough, loss of appetite, and decreased white blood cells. Vomiting, nausea, headache, and muscle aches, as well as low platelet counts and liver failure, have also been reported in more than one-third of patients. All apparently survived: the study makes no mention of death.
- Shrews are believed to be the source of contamination.
The study’s conclusions suggest that shrews, small mammals similar to mustachioed moles, could be the source of contamination. Asked about it by Taipei Timesthe deputy director general of the CDC in Taiwan, Chuang Jen-hsiang, explained that according to the researchers and authors of the study, who performed serological tests on twenty-five species of animals, the virus had been detected in 27% of shrews tested Only 2% of goats and 5% of dogs tested positive for this virus.
- An infection that does not spread quickly.
nothing indicates, to date, that this pathogen can be transmitted from human to human, explains Chuang Jen-hsiang to the Taiwanese newspaper:
“The thirty-five patients in China had no close contact with each other, no common exposure history, and contact tracing showed no viral transmission between close contacts and family members, suggesting that human infections may be sporadic. »
The professor of biology at University College London, François Balloux, recalled, in a series of messages published on Twitterthan the infection “does not spread rapidly in humans” and that, at this stage, “LayV does not look like a repetition of Covid-19 at all”.
Moreover, he says, a “reminder of the threat posed by the many pathogens circulating in the wild and domestic animal population that have the potential to infect humans”.
This spread is common and accounts for more than six out of ten known infectious diseases in humans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the United States. Most of the time, these germs cause limited illness and go away without having a major impact. Since the Covid-19 epidemic, there are now additional monitoring systems that detect new pathogens.
“Every year several viruses emerge in humans without causing epidemics. [Le LayV] It has been circulating quietly 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.”abounds Yannick Simonin, virologist at the Inserm (National Institute of Health and Medical Research), of the University of Montpellier, interviewed by the parisian.
“As Langya virus is a newly detected virus, Taiwanese laboratories will have to establish a standardized testing method”Taiwan CDC Deputy Director General concluded. More research is still needed to better understand this infection, the researchers behind the study said.
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