Langyathe new virus that in China has already infected 35 people. But what do we know so far? It has animal origin in the Shandong and Henan regions. This is a new one virus RNA, a henipavirus that can also affect the liver and kidneys. It was identified by scientists from Beijing and Singapore and to date researchers believe i symptoms most common of this infection are fever, fatigue, cough, loss of appetite and muscle aches, as emerged from the first investigations published in a study on New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). The virus can also affect the liver and kidneys, compromising their function.
Langya, the new Chinese virus that comes from the shrew: 35 already infected. It affects the liver and kidneys
Langya, symptoms and how to recognize it
The most common symptoms of the infection I am feverfatigue cough, muscle aches and loss of appetite. In some rare cases the virus can strike liver and kidneys damaging them. According to the studies carried out to date (based on only 35 recognized cases) the most common symptoms are fever (100% of cases – 26 out of 26 cases of LayV in the absence of other infections), fatigue (54%), cough (50%) , loss of appetite (50%), decrease in white blood cells (54%), muscle aches (46%). A good number of patients (38%) manifest nausea, headache (35%), vomiting (35%), low platelet count (35%), liver failure (35%). Only 8% of cases have akidney failure. At the moment, no deaths related to the virus have been recorded, even if the pathogen is still a cause for alert and more in-depth studies are needed on the effects it can have on the body.
How it is transmitted
The virus is transmitted by animals through contact with body fluids, infected tissues, excretions or secretions of infected animals. From the tests carried out, the “carriers” of this virus are mainly the shrews (traces of this virus were found in 27% of the examined shrews). Analyzes on livestock and other animals showed that goats and dogs instead have antibodies against the disease.
It is not yet clear whether the virus can be transmitted man to man: the contact tracing of 9 positives and 15 family members did not identify any cases of human-to-human transmission. In the 35 known cases, the infected had not had contact with each other but had all been exposed to the animals. Experts therefore speculate that human-to-human transmission of the virus may be sporadic.
It is not yet possible to estimate the mortality rate of the disease. For other animal-transmitted henipaviruses, such as the Nipah virus, the World Health Organization reports a death rate between 40 and 75%, much higher than Covid (0.1 to over 25%).
Langya virus, therapies and vaccines available
At the moment there are no therapies o specific vaccines against zootic Henipaviruses (of animal origin). However, since 2012 there has been a vaccine used in animals that fights one of the six species of henipavirus (the Hendra virus) which can cause serious diseases in horses and humans. Some (monoclonal) therapies are being tested against the Nipah virus.
To prevent contagion, they must be adopted standard prevention measures: use gloves and protective devices when handling sick animals, during slaughter procedures, avoiding as much as possible coming into contact with animals suspected of being infected, avoiding close contact with people infected with the virus.
Giorgio Palù: “Disease is observed special”
The World Health Organization looks with suspicion at this pathogen due to its kinship “with highly lethal viruses” he explains Giorgio Palùemeritus professor of virology at the University of Padua and president of the Italian drug agency.
“We know little about the Langya virus, which also belongs to a long-known and tall family lethality. We know that she has her source in a rodent, a spider mouse. The reassuring fact is that this virus, identified in a Chinese patient, does not seem to have the ability to spread from human to human and appears to have a relatively low pathogenicity ». Langya is a henipavirus, belongs to a genus already known since the end of the 20th century, and is part of the paramyxovirus family, “which includes other viruses that we know as parainflluenzale, the respiratory syncytial virus”, concludes Palù.
The veterinary Caramelli: must be supervised
“There is some concern about this Chinese outbreak,” explains Maria Caramels, veterinarian of the Emerging Diseases Surveillance Laboratory of the Zooprophylactic Institute of Piedmont. But now this cluster is linked to conditions of promiscuity with animals. We know that for this kind of virus a human-to-human passage is sporadic and has little effectiveness, but it cannot be excluded, as other cases teach us ».
«Over 70% of diseases that affect man they come from animals and this must make us think about the importance of prevention and surveillance which in Europe is high, but in other countries it is lower. Certainly the fact that this cluster has come to light is a good sign »concludes Maria.