New Langya Virus Infects Dozens in Eastern China

    New Langya Virus Infects Dozens in Eastern China
    Last updated Aug 11, 2022
    Image credit: Shutterstock [via Vice News]


    • In an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine last week, an international team of scientists reported the discovery of a new virus, the Langya henipavirus (LayV), that likely jumped to humans from shrews.[1]
    • The infection was found in 35 people in the eastern Chinese provinces of Shandong and Henan between 2018 and 2021. After contact tracing, no evidence was found that LayV is transmissible among humans.[2]
    • Symptoms of the virus can include acute fever, fatigue, cough, and loss of appetite, though some people also experienced body aches, nausea, vomiting, headaches, and impaired liver function.[2]
    • The current theory is that the new virus originated in wild shrews, a small mouse-like mammal, though researchers have also found instances of the virus in domestic dogs and goats.[3]
    • Two outbreaks of the henipavirus have been associated with high fatality and virulency in the past, though this virus is thought to be more mild.[3]
    • It's not uncommon for viruses to spill over from animals to humans. Scientists say some 70% of emerging infectious diseases in humans are of zoonotic origins, and that millions of undiscovered viruses exist in mammals and birds.[4]


    Narrative A

    Long before the coronavirus pandemic, scientists warned that unregulated wildlife trade, climate change, deforestation, and urbanization have brought people closer to animals, thus increasing the odds of viral spillover. These incidents are concerning and, as COVID proved, can have disruptive and deadly consequences. We must address these root cause issues.

    Narrative B

    This new virus is nothing we should be worried about. There's no evidence from this report that it transmits between people, the symptoms are mild, and a new virus isn't always a need for panic. There's no need for alarmism here.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 15% chance that there will be a novel pathogen that kills over 25 million people between 2022 and 2031 (inclusive), according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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