After Coronavirus, World Sees New Zoonotic Langya Henipavirus

After Coronavirus, the World Sees New Zoonotic Langya Henipavirus

As the world slowly starts to recover from Coronavirus, a new zoonotic virus has now emerged from China’s two eastern provinces – Shandong and Henan provinces – with 35 infections identified so far. The new virus is named Langya Henipavirus or the LayV.

The newly discovered virus classified as biosafety level 4 (BSL4) pathogens can cause severe illness in animals and humans. Moreover, no licensed drugs or vaccines meant for humans known trill now.


The discovery of the new virus came to light after a group of researchers from China and Singapore published their findings in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).   In the findings, the researchers said that a new type of animal-derived Henipavirus (also named Langya henipavirus, LayV) that can infect humans has been found in East China’s Shandong Province and Central China’s Henan Province. It has so far infected 35 people in the two provinces. As per the research paper, Langya henipavirus was found in the throat swab samples from patients showing feverish symptoms. These patients had a history of contact with animals in recent times. The study said that it is a “phylogenetically distinct Henipavirus”.       


As per the study published in the NEJM the infected people had fever, fatigue, cough, anorexia, myalgia, Nausea and muscle ache. In the study, the researchers said that all the 26 infected persons had fever. It said that 54 per cent reported fatigue, 50 per cent had cough and 38 per cent complained of nausea. Moreover, 35 per cent complained of headache and vomiting. It also found 35 per cent had impaired liver function and eight per cent had their kidney function affected. The reports said that henipavirus infection could lower white blood cell counts in infected patients.


The virus has been predominantly found in shrews, which may be its natural hosts. Most likely, the virus jumped from animals to humans.


It is yet to be established. In the study, the authors underlined that the sample size of their investigation is too small to determine human-to-human transmission. However, they point out that among the 35 patients, there was “no close contact or common exposure history”.


Henipavirus belongs to family Paramyxoviridae, order Mononegavirales. Three known virus represent genus Henipavirus — Hendra virus (HeV), Nipah virus (NiV) and CedPV (CedPV). The first henipaviruses, Hendra virus (HeV), and Nipah virus (NiV) were pathogenic zoonoses that emerged in the mid to late 1990s causing serious disease outbreaks in livestock and humans.


According to WHO

  • A zoonosis is any disease or infection that is naturally transmissible from vertebrate animals to humans
  • There are over 200 known types of zoonoses
  • Zoonoses comprise a large percentage of new and existing diseases in humans
  • Some zoonoses, such as rabies, are 100% preventable through vaccination and other methods

Zoonoses comprise a large percentage of all newly identified infectious diseases as well as many existing ones. Some diseases, such as HIV, begin as a zoonosis but later mutate into human-only strains. Other zoonoses can cause recurring disease outbreaks, such as Ebola virus disease and salmonellosis. Still others, such as the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, have the potential to cause global pandemics. 

Prevention methods for zoonotic diseases differ for each pathogen; however, several practices are recognized as effective in reducing risk at the community and personal levels. Safe and appropriate guidelines for animal care in the agricultural sector help to reduce the potential for foodborne zoonotic disease outbreaks through foods such as meat, eggs, dairy or even some vegetables. Standards for clean drinking water and waste removal, as well as protections for surface water in the natural environment, are also important and effective. Education campaigns to promote handwashing after contact with animals and other behavioural adjustments can reduce community spread of zoonotic diseases when they occur.


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