The Giving Capsules: BEWARE—Scientists track newly identified virus as China sounds alarm for the ‘Langya Virus’

unhealthy meals

When you say ‘yes’ to your job and all other things, remember to say ‘yes’ to your keeping a healthy immunity too. Storms make trees take deeper root. Protect your immunity. Keeping a healthy immunity should be your number-one focus at present, now that the world is warned of seeing more diseases with the increased exploitation of wildlife and climate change.

Eating natural, healthy, home-cooked meals will do you more good than resorting to packaged, processed and other unhealthy meals. Deprogramme yourself from the lie that processed and packaged foods can replace home naturally-cooked meals. Usually, the longer the shelf-life of these packaged foods, the shorter your life-span. If the food comes from a plant (the earth), eat it; if it is manufactured from a plant (a machine), avoid it if you can. Be agile.

According to a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine, scientists are tracking a new, animal-derived virus in China that has infected at least 35 people as at date. The novel Langya henipavirus (LayV) was found in the Shandong and Henan provinces.

The virus, named Langya henipavirus or LayV, was found thanks to an early detection system for feverish people with a recent history of exposure to animals in China. The patients – mainly farmers – also reported fatigue, cough, loss of appetite and aches, with several developing blood-cell abnormalities and signs of liver and kidney damage. All are alive, the report indicated.  There was no evidence they had been in close contact or had a common exposure history – suggesting human infection may be random, the researchers said.

Further investigation is needed to better understand the infection, according to the researchers from Beijing, Singapore and Australia. Taiwan’s Centres for Disease Control said it is paying attention to the report and plans to start screening for the virus.  The scientists said LayV was found in 27% of shrews tested, suggesting the mole-like mammals may be “natural reservoirs” for the virus. About 5% of dogs and 2% of goats also tested positive for it, the report indicated.

LayV is a type of henipavirus, a category of zoonotic viruses which can jump from animals to humans. Zoonotic viruses are very common but have attracted more attention since the start of the Covid pandemic. The US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention said scientists estimate that three out of every four new or emerging infectious diseases in people come from animals. The United Nations had previously warned the world will see more of such diseases with increased exploitation of wildlife and climate change. Some zoonotic viruses can be potentially fatal to humans. These include the Nipah virus that has periodic outbreaks among animals and humans in Asia, and the Hendra virus which was first detected in horses in Australia.

Here is what the report said: “The Hendra virus and the Nipah virus, which belong to the genus henipavirus in the family Paramyxoviridae, are known to infect humans and cause fatal disease; however, other related henipaviruses have been detected in bats, rodents and shrews. During sentinel surveillance of febrile patients with a recent history of animal exposure in eastern China, a phylogenetically distinct henipavirus – named Langya henipavirus (LayV) – was identified in a throat-swab sample from one patient by means of metagenomic analysis and subsequent virus isolation. The genome of LayV is composed of 18,402 nucleotides with a genome organisation identical to that of other henipaviruses. LayV is most phylogenetically related to Mojiang henipavirus, which was discovered in southern China.

“Subsequent investigation identified 35 patients with acute LayV infection in the Shandong and Henan provinces of China, among whom 26 were infected with LayV only (no other pathogens were present). These 26 patients presented with fever (100% of the patients), fatigue (54%), cough (50%), anorexia (50%), myalgia (46%), nausea (38%), headache (35%), and vomiting (35%), accompanied by abnormalities of thrombocytopenia (35%), leukopenia (54%), and impaired liver (35%) and kidney (8%) function. A serosurvey of domestic animals detected seropositivity in goats (3 of 168 [2%]) and dogs (4 of 79 [5%]). Among 25 species of wild small animals surveyed, LayV RNA was predominantly detected in shrews (71 of 262 [27%]), a finding that suggests the shrew may be a natural reservoir of LayV.

“Although the current study does not fulfil Koch’s postulates, the following findings from the patients with acute LayV infection suggest that LayV was the cause of febrile illness: LayV was the only potential pathogen detected in 26 of the 35 patients (74%) with acute LayV infection; in paired serum samples that were obtained from 14 patients during the acute and convalescent phases of infection, the IgG titers in 86% of the convalescent-phase samples were 4 times as high as those in the acute-phase samples; viremia was associated with acute LayV infection; and the patients with pneumonia had higher viral loads than those without pneumonia (mean [±SD] log10-transformed copies per milliliter, 7.64±0.98 vs. 4.52±1.13).

“Although human-to-human transmission has been reported for the Nipah virus, we found no obvious spatial or temporal aggregation of human cases or the assigned haplotypes on the basis of three common single-nucleotide polymorphisms. 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 LayV transmission, but our sample size was too small to determine the status of human-to-human transmission for LayV. The potential cross-reaction with Mojiang virus should be assessed to improve serologic testing,” the report indicated.

By Baptista S. Gebu (Mrs.)

Baptista is an influencer and the Executive Director of ProHumane Afrique International, a non-profit focused on healthy living advocacy. You can follow this conversation on our social media pages Facebook / LinkedIn/ Twitter / Instagram: ProHumane Afrique International.   Call or WhatsApp: +233(0)262213313.  Follow the hashtag #BeHumane #thegivingcapsules


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