Researchers share details of new flu-like virus known as LayV found in humans in China

Concern over the coronavirus pandemic has, by and large, faded into the background for most people, and despite a surge of fear-mongering from politicians and the media about monkeypox, most people have also dismissed that virus as not particularly threatening to them personally.

Now there is a new potential viral pandemic that some public health officials have begun to warn about — Langya henipavirus, also known as LayV — and, once again, this one has emerged out of China, Fox News reported.

However, at least as of now, there have only been around 35 confirmed cases of humans infected by this particular version of henipavirus, which is typically found only in small mammals like bats, rodents, and shrews.

Another influenza-like virus

A recent study was published by researchers in the New England Journal of Medicine with regard to the emergence of at least 35 human cases of LayV in the Chinese provinces of Henan and Shandong.

Similar to coronaviruses, symptoms of LayV infections appear to resemble that of influenza and include things like “fever, cough, headache, muscle soreness, fatigue, loss of appetite, and nausea,” according to Fox News.

Further, though it has been determined that LayV can infect humans and even prove fatal for some patients, there are as yet no indications of any human-to-human transmission, even among families and close contacts of those who are infected, and it appears that infections in humans stem primarily from close contact with infected animals.

Mostly found in shrews, only “sporadic” human infection

The Hill reported that while LayV has been observed in a number of different small wild animals, researchers determined that shrews were the predominant vector and that infections among humans were “sporadic.”

Indeed, the study stated, “Among 25 species of wild small animals surveyed, [Langya] RNA was predominantly detected in shrews (71 of 262 [27%]), a finding that suggests that the shrew may be a natural reservoir of [Langya].”

As for human infections, the researchers wrote, “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 9 patients with 15 close-contact family members revealed no close-contact [Langya] transmission, but our sample size was too small to determine the status of human-to-human transmission for [Langya].”

Most likely NOT a “repeat of Covid-19”

To be sure, some public health officials and politicians may attempt to seize upon this new discovery to garner more power and control as occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, but this particular virus may not present such an opportunity — at least according to a Twitter thread from Prof. Francois Balloux, the director of the University College of London Genetics Institute.

Balloux noted that LayV was “not spreading fast in humans,” given that the first case emerged in 2018, and that it was “far less lethal” than other henipaviruses, such as the deadly Nipah virus, as well as that it “probably doesn’t transmit easily from human to human.”

Thus, the professor wrote, “At this stage, LayV doesn’t look like a repeat of Covid-19 at all, but it is yet another reminder of the looming threat caused by the many pathogens circulating in populations of wild and domestic animals that have the potential to infect humans.”

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