Scientists have reported the detection in the Chinese provinces of Shandong and Henan of 35 cases of human infection caused by a new Henipavirus-type virus of animal origin causing fever, tiredness, and cough among other symptoms.
Chinese and Singaporean scientists cited in the report said the new malady has similarities with Nipah, also from the Henipavirus family. The recent infection, named Langya (LayV), has so far recorded no deaths nor any serious development in progress, according to the Chinese state-run Global Times, citing an article published by Chinese and Singaporean scientists in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The virus, for which no vaccine or treatment is currently available, was detected through throat swabs from patients who had had recent contact with animals and is associated with symptoms such as fever, fatigue, cough, loss of appetite, headaches, muscle aches, and nausea.
Additional investigations showed that 26 of the 35 patients developed these clinical symptoms, in addition to irritability and vomiting. Henipavirus is reportedly one of the main emerging causes of the jump from animal diseases to humans (a process called zoonosis) in the Asia-Pacific region. One of the vectors of transmission is the fruit bat, considered the natural host of two of the known Henipaviruses: Hendra virus (HeV) and Nipah virus (NiV).
The World Health Organization (WHO) has noted that the Hendra virus causes human infections ranging from asymptomatic to acute respiratory infections and severe encephalitis, with an estimated fatality rate of 40-75% that may vary depending on local epidemiological investigation and clinical management capabilities.
No person-to-person transmission has been yet confirmed, but this type of contagion cannot be ruled out either.
Coronavirus will not be the last contagious disease to cause a pandemic, as new diseases will have an increasing impact on the daily life of the human race, scientists from the Department of Infectious Pathologies of Huashan Hospital said.
In our study, a newly identified henipavirus of probable animal origin was associated with febrile illness, a finding that warrants further investigation to better understand the associated human disease, they added in a statement.
Henipavirus is said to stem from the bat, with many symptoms in common with COVID-19, although the latter have evolved over time with the appearance of new strains.