BEIJING: A new type of animal-derived Henipavirus has so far infected people in Shandong and Henan provinces of China, official media here reported on Tuesday.
The new type of Henipavirus (also named Langya henipavirus, LayV) was found in throat swab samples from febrile patients in eastern China, state-run Global Times quoted media reports.
Scientists last week in a paper noted "investigators in China identified a new henipavirus associated with a febrile human illness. This virus was also found in shrews." The paper has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).
Scholars who participated in the study pointed out that this newly discovered Henipavirus, which may have come from animals, is associated with some febrile cases, and the infected people have symptoms including fever, fatigue, cough, anorexia, myalgia, and nausea.
There is currently no vaccine or treatment for Henipavirus and the only treatment is supportive care to manage complications.
The cases of Langya henipavirus so far have not been fatal or very serious, so there is no need for panic, Wang Linfa, a Professor in the Programme in Emerging Infectious Diseases at Duke-NUS Medical School who was involved in the study said, adding that it is still a cause for alert as many viruses that exist in nature have unpredictable results when they infect humans.
Further investigation found that 26 out of 35 cases of Langya Henipavirus infection in Shandong and Henan provinces have developed clinical symptoms such as fever, irritability, cough, anorexia, myalgia, nausea, headache and vomiting, the report said.
What about human-to-human transmission?
The authors of the study have 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 infected by LayV, there was "no close contact or common exposure history", which suggests that the "infection in the human population may be sporadic".
The study further noted that contact tracing of 9 patients with 15 close-contact family members revealed no close-contact LayV transmission.