First Human Cases of Novel Virus Found in Shrews Detected By China

On Tuesday, China’s state-run Global Times reported that scientists from China and Singapore had announced the detection of a novel animal-derived virus known as Langya henipavirus (LayV), a zoonotic virus often found in shrews, now in at least 35 humans across China’s eastern provinces of Henan and Shandong.

First announcing their discovery in a letter to the editor, published by the New England Journal of Medicine on August 4. these scientists, stated-

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 […].

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 [muscle pain] (46%), nausea (38%), headache (35%), and vomiting (35%), accompanied by abnormalities of thrombocytopenia [low blood platelet count] (35%), leukopenia [low white blood cell count] (54%), and impaired liver (35%) and kidney (8%) function.

-New England Journal of Medicine

The team of scientists, most of whom are employed by China’s state medical agencies, wrote –

“In our study, a newly identified henipavirus of probable animal origin was associated with febrile illness, a finding that warrants further investigation to better understand associated human illness,”

-Reporting Team of Scientists / Researchers

The scientific team’s ongoing research into the novel henipavirus cases is supported by agencies which include: the Beijing Institute of Microbiology and Epidemiology; the State Key Laboratory of Pathogens and Biosecurity (Beijing); the Qingdao Municipal Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Shandong)and the Changchun Institute of Veterinary Medicine (China’s Jilin province).

On August 8,Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-Hsiang told reporters at a press briefing, that they are closely monitoring the development of Langya henipavirus’s spread within China and noted that they are-

 “focused on researching routes of transmission,” adding that the Taiwan CDC would work jointly with Taiwan’s agriculture council “to check if similar diseases exist in species native to Taiwan.”

Taiwan CDC Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-Hsiang

Further, on August 9, Wang Lin-Fa, a Singapore-based researcher involved in the study, told the Global Times-

 “The cases of Langya henipavirus so far have not been fatal or very serious, so there is no need for panic” acknowledging that (the virus detection)… “is still a cause for alert as many viruses that exist in nature have unpredictable results when they infect humans.”

– Wang Lin-Fa, Singapore-Based Researcher

By way of review – In February of 2020, the World Health Organization labeled the novel coronavirus “SARS-CoV-2” and named the disease it causes “COVID-19,” which is alternatively known as the Chinese coronavirus. The exact origins of the virus remain unknown, though some have speculated that it jumped from an animal host (such as bats) to humans.

So, China, the country that brought the world COVID 19, now is reporting (scientists / researchers) cases of Langya Henipavirus in humans. As stated this disease is normally found in shrews. Research into the exact transmission to humans is yet to be determined, however the fact that it has somehow made this species leap, and is actively spreading across China is disturbing. Further, that this new viral mutation is yet another anomaly occurring in China, bares scrutiny.

Hopefully, America’s science community will step up to the plate, to gain information – before those like Dr. Anthony Fauci step in to block the advance of information to the American public, who deserve to have the facts should this virus reach our shores sooner than later.

“An incident is just the tip of the iceberg, a sign of a much larger problem below the surface.”

-Don Brown

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