A new animal virus that can infect people has been identified in eastern China. But scientists say they are not overly concerned because the virus doesn't seem to spread easily between people, nor is it fatal. The newly discovered virus identified as Langya henipavirus or LayV can cause respiratory symptoms such as fever, cough, and fatigue, and is closely related to Nipah and Hendra viruses, but cannot spread easily in people. These also cause respiratory infections and can be fatal. Researchers think LayV is carried by shrews, which might have infected people directly or through an intermediate animal. The pathogen did not cause any reported deaths, but was detected in 35 unrelated fever patients in hospitals in Shandong and Henan provinces between 2018 and 2021, the scientists said,
The above finding is in tune with longstanding warnings from scientists that animal viruses are regularly spilling undetected into people around the world.
"We are hugely underestimating the number of these zoonotic cases in the world, and this (Langya virus) is just the tip of the iceberg," said emerging virus expert Leo Poon, a professor at the University of Hong Kong's School of Public Health, who was not involved in the latest study.
According to researchers from Beijing, Singapore, and Australia, more research is needed to better understand the infection. Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control stated that it is monitoring the report and intends to begin screening for the virus.