Warning as brand new virus is detected in 35 people in China

Deja-flu: China sounds alarm as 35 people fall ill with ‘newly identified’ Langya virus that is thought to have jumped from shrews

  • Langya belongs to a family of viruses that are known to kill up to 75% of cases
  • None of the cases in two Chinese provinces so far have resulted in people dying 
  • Experts believe the virus was passed on by animals, including shrews 

A new virus that may have been passed on from a shrew has been spotted in 35 people in China.

The Langya virus belongs to a family of pathogens that are known to kill up to three quarters of humans in severe cases.

None of the cases have so far resulted in people dying, although patients have been left with flu-like symptoms. These included a fever, tiredness, cough, headache and vomiting.

The Taiwanese Centers for Disease Control raised the alarm about the virus found in Henan and Shandong provinces in east China.

It warned residents should ‘pay close attention’ to updates about the virus, although cases of human-to-human transmission have not yet been recorded. 

The virus has never been spotted in humans before and experts believe it was passed on by other animals.

Langya virus has been spotted in 35 people in China  (pictured, an illustration of Nipah virus, a related virus)

The virus has never been spotted in humans before and experts believe it was passed on by shrews

What is Langya virus?

Langya virus is a hepinavirus that has been spotted in humans for the first time in China.

It belongs to the same family as the same family as Nipah virus, which is a deadly pathogen that is usually found in bats.

Experts believe Langya was passed on to humans by shrews, a small mole-like mammal. 

Where was it spotted?

The virus infected 35 people in Henan and Shandong provinces in the East of the country. 

The Taiwanese Centers for Disease Control raised the alarm about the virus although cases have been limited to the main land so far. 

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptom suffered was fever, with all people infected coming down with a temperature.

It was followed by fatigue (54 per cent), cough (50 percent), loss of appetite (50 per cent), muscle aches (46 per cent) and feeling queasy (38 per cent).

Should I be worried?

None of the Langya cases have so far resulted in people dying, although patients have been left with flu-like symptoms.

There has been no evidence of human-to-human spread so far, although Taiwanese authorities have set up new testing to monitor its transmission. 

Chinese researchers found the virus in 71 of 262 shrews — a small mole-like mammal — surveyed in the two Chinese provinces where the outbreak started.

They published their findings on the virus, also known as LayV, in a study in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The paper said: ‘There was no close contact or common exposure history among the patients, which suggests that the infection in the human population may be sporadic.

‘Contact tracing of nine patients with 15 close-contact family members revealed no close-contact LayV transmission.

‘But our sample size was too small to determine the status of human-to-human transmission for LayV.’

Langya is hepinavirus — the same family as Nipah virus, which is a deadly pathogen that is usually found in bats.

Like Covid, Nipah can spread through respiratory droplets. But it is far more deadly, killing up to three-quarters of people it infects. 

It has been listed as one of the viruses most likely to cause the next pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The brain-swelling virus was first discovered in Malaysia and Singapore in 1999, when 300 cases led to 100 deaths. 

There is currently no Nipah vaccine approved for humans — but at least eight are currently being tested on animals, including one made by Oxford University.

The most common symptom suffered by Langya patients was fever, with all people infected coming down with a temperature.

It was followed by fatigue (54 per cent), cough (50 percent), loss of appetite (50 per cent), muscle aches (46 per cent) and feeling queasy (38 per cent).

Around 35 per cent suffered liver problems while 8 per cent saw a fall in kidney function.

Alongside shrews, the virus was also spotted in dogs (5 per cent) and goats (2 per cent).

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